Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcome to PR ladies and...gentlemen?

Looking around the classroom it didn't take long to notice all the girls. Tables of girls, four to five of them sitting together chatting away. Flashbacks to high school anthropology class filled my thoughts. Having to present to a class full of girls as a nervous, awkward teen...not very fun.

Now by no way I am not trying to be sexist by saying this. I just need to get it out there for those of us who aren't accustomed to a big trend that exists within PR circles...there are women everywhere.

Our classroom is 83% female and 17% male. Sorry to throw out the percentages. PR people really hate math if you didn't know that already now you do. These numbers, are right on with the gender split for those practicing PR in working field, which is about 80% female to 20% male.

So what does it all mean? For starters, knowing how to adapt to your environment, any environment is key. Where would I be if I was still in my awkward shell? Freaked to death by all the girls and not in PR.

Secondly, when you are in a new environment, embrace it, don't run away from it. The PR person who has good relationships with all different types of people whether that be because of their gender or race or whatever, will go far.

Lastly, have fun. Being placed in new situations, although sometimes nerve wracking, present opportunities to turn them into fun, calming experiences. Don't grumble or complain about the situation your in without first trying to make it a little fun, so your personality can shine through.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why you, Why PR?

After finishing up my first year of pre media and communication, I was asking myself many questions regarding the program. Did I really need a high school review of sociology? No. Did I need to watch old sci-fi films at school when I could easily watch them at home? No. Was being a journalist or reporter even something I wanted to do?

Yes...no...maybe? What I did know though was another year of the one year certificate, two year diploma program would be a waste of time and money. With all the different possibilities, questions, about what I wanted to do running through my head these were definitely confusing times. However, it was a media class, found in the odds and ends of this pre media and communication program, that would get me where I needed to be...get me to PR.

Media class was full of questions. Questions, questions, questions. We were questioned daily to exhaustion by the teacher. Questions to which I had no answers. I only wish I knew what I know now so I would have been able to give more answers and look less dumbfounded.

Although frustrating at times, what this type of class set up did was it gave me time to find out what I need to know, it gave me answers to my questions. Answers which I found when we were put into groups to complete a project on the many different parts of media. There were many choices, with TV and radio being the top for students in class to learn about. Luckily for me I and my 3 other group members we ended up with PR.

Now what is funny how it all worked out after the project. The next yr, I got into PR. The girl in my group got into radio broadcasting. One guy ended up in interactive multimedia. The other guy...well he ended up in you guessed it...pre media and communication.

The project was my first experience to what PR (public relations) was like. As a group of four, we decided to split up into pairs to research the historical and practical sides of PR. Me and my partner were chosen to do the practical side of PR. This involved interviewing two PR professionals at their work to see what a day in the life of a practitioner is. This was going to be fun stuff.

For the interviews we were able to get a women who ran her own PR agency in the heart of downtown and another who worked communications with a casino. They both shared something that I aspire to achieve, posh PR positions.

The office of the agency consultant was spacious and elegantly designed. When talking about her family, it was refreshing to hear that her job allowed time to raise a family, instead of take one away.

The casino women's job, while busy with updating website content, entertaining clients, and making presentations, nevertheless gave you the impression she has fun and enjoys herself in expensive pursuits.

Through these interviews, a ringing endorsement for me to jump into PR was made. The lifestyle of both women was very attractive (not just by the amount of money they made but in how having fun and family was incorporated their careers). The front line role they showed me that PR plays, in creating and disseminating messages was also attractive. Overall, they made PR look fun to me, which in turn made it a definite possibility for me to pursue.

After the project, there wasn't much left for me in my mind to decide. PR was my choice, sorry pre media, but there would be no second twirl around next year. Through this one class, these womens experiences in the field, and my intuition, I found that the questions of where I wanted to go were answered.

For me it was all about finding answers to my questions. This is the first step you must take to decide if PR is right for you. Ask a lot of questions...you my not find all the answers but you should find enough to at least try the field your in.

When you find these answers, you have to listen to your intuition. Go for it because it is better to have tried something then nothing at all. Follow that intuition of yours. Finally, when you go with it, put everything into making what you want happen. I wanted to put everything into PR, a decision that I haven't regretted since, a decision I hope everyone interested in this field will have a chance to make as well.