Thursday, 1 November 2012

Step 3: Build Research Skills for PR

Become a Part-time Researcher

Now that Halloween has passed, I can get back to blogging about PR and of course Step 3 in the ongoing story of my venture into PR.

Enrolling in a PR course or program is a good step forward because it gives you a formal education of the different aspects of PR. I can safely say that after 2 months in my program at Mohawk I have already learned so much. I feel legitimately prepared to start a career in PR and I still have 6 more months to go! So I can only imagine how much more prepared I will be by the time April comes.

But one thing that I have discovered is that you have to self-educate in an informal way to learn about the PR industry. Naturally, such a dynamic career will have a dynamic industry and you cannot learn it all in a classroom. An excellent addition to formal learning is utilizing the ever reliable Internet. Did you say Google? That is exactly what I mean. I have spent countless hours with Google researching the PR industry. It’s a task without an end, because you have to keep up with the ever-evolving nature of PR. I feel like most researchers, I have an insatiable thirst for discovering everything that is the latest and greatest in my field.

The first reason why I feel this is a necessary step in my career building is because it reflects the PR profession. This past Wednesday, my PR class visited some agencies in Toronto where we learned that even as PR students we need to stay informed about current news and events, best PR practices, the uses of social media and the list goes on. So it seems fitting that my endless research is important and helpful to beginning my career in PR. 

Motivation Quote
Fiddling about with Photoshop...big distraction.
Another reason why I think research is essential is because it clears up any misconceptions about the profession and creates realistic expectations. I feel like I am finally able to explain to people why PR is not advertising or marketing.

Finally, the best reason for continuing my research is that it is rewarding. Awareness and knowledge are assets that have value (can you tell I am a business grad?) and they are useful. The research process has in itself improved my research skills, organizational skills and my own motivation to continue learning; some unexpected outcomes in a quest for knowledge. So don’t forget that it is a learning process which helps you grow.

It has been a little overwhelming deciding what to research first or even where, but I guess I started with Twitter. It wasn’t until I started following more and more PR related handles that I discovered how important Twitter is as a source of information. Also, it will naturally lead you to other sources.

The next place I looked was at professional associations like the CPRS (which I am a member of) and the IABC (which I will join in second semester). The best part is that students get a discount on the membership, a real incentive! I am excited to network and have access to job postings, mentorship and volunteer opportunities. So far, I have become active in the CPRS on their Board of Directors and in the Mentorship program; both of which have given me access to resources about the PR industry. 

The hardest part has been researching and evaluating an uncountable number of PR agencies (my ideal work environment), in addition to looking at industries that require PR like entertainment, fashion, lifestyle, food, government and so on. This has really helped prepare me for my future (daunting) job hunt.

Phew. That is a lot to cram into one post. But that is because this is an important step and one that is ongoing. The best way to keep up with it is to make it a part of your daily routine. I would suggest using your free time to research instead of playing pointless online games. You will be rewarded.

P.S. No one said getting your dream job was easy, but I still love PR!

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