This post was first published by Patricia de Groot on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.
When I graduated from business school, a whole world of professional options opened up for me. I could become a business developer, a financial consultant, or even a marketing rock star.
I chose to step away from the conventional career path and enter the fascinating world of public relations. Then a big question struck me: had business school prepared me for the PR sector? The answer was a resounding yes.
Here are five ways business school can give you the tools you need to be successful in PR.
1. Team Work
Because a solid business strategy requires the insight and creativity of multiple minds, business students spend most of their time working on team projects. The intense collaboration with fellow students taught me not only how to be a positive contributor to a team, but also taught me how to inspire others, how to delegate, how to give constructive feedback, and most importantly, how to turn differences and conflict into synergy. These strengths are highly valued in PR firms, because an entire team works on a client account – not just one individual.
2. Time Management
Effective time management is at the crux of any successful project, especially in the fast-paced world of PR. While at business school, I constantly had to multi-task and prioritize to get the most out of my year. Within a few months, I became a natural at juggling more than 20 courses, innumerable individual and group assignments, club activities, multiple job applications and, of course, the occasional party here and there. The art of time management is indispensable in a world where time is money.
3. Be Up-to-Date on the Industry
It wasn’t until I lost a business simulation because I overlooked a competitor move that I realized the importance of doing your homework and keeping your finger on the pulse of industry news. The same principle applies to public relations. A good PR representative will consider the trends, competitor moves and media landscape in a specific sector while creating a strategic outreach plan.
4. Push Your Boundaries
At business school, I benefitted from stepping out of my comfort zone and taking some calculated risks. For one of the final projects, my group decided to go against the advice of our mentor and deliver our presentation as an interactive story. In the end, we won the pitch thanks to our engaging storytelling. Likewise, PR professionals that think outside the box can come up with innovative outreach strategies that make clients stand out from the competition.
From the start of the school year, I was encouraged to attend networking events to make connections and help me find my dream job. By attending diverse events on a regular basis, I built an extensive network and learned how to brand myself when meeting new people. This skill proves useful when representing an agency at an event, where networking ability could help earn a meeting with a relevant journalist or a potential client.
In the end, it’s important to remember that no professor can fully prepare a student for their future career. However, they can teach you the vital skills and knowledge that enable you to quickly adapt to new environments and guide you through the exciting challenges of your job each day.