When I left secondary school, people would always ask me ‘what are you studying at university?’ and when I told them ‘Public Relations’, this was often met with an ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Before I started my course, I would always say the same thing; that a public relations officer would find out what the public were thinking of their products and then report back to the business. I think I can admit that was a poor answer and looking back now, as a final year student, I am surprised that a lot of people didn’t know what Public Relations was,or fully understand it (myself included by the sounds of things!).
I think many people understand PR as free gifts that a company sends to celebrities or social media influencers, in an attempt to promote their business. I guess it is because public relations encompasses so many things, so people might find it difficult to recognise. Public Relations is all around us. In our society, business and our politics. Nearly everything that we see or hear in the media, is something that has been carefully constructed by a PR professional.
Public Relations is the communication process, which helps build beneficial relationships between an organisation and their publics. It is a distinctive communication function used to control public perspectives. It is used to promote an organisation and build a positive reputation and public image. Its primary goal is to create positive public perspectives of the organisation through media use. Every business writes its own story, and public relations is the narrator.
PR is a fundamental technique used by a business to improve their corporate image. It is also used to identify the business’ target audience and tailors every message, both consciously and subconsciously to appeal to that audience. Public relations falls under the umbrella of many business communications and relationships. It is a strategic process that manages communication when dealing with publics such as customers, the media, shareholders, employees and many more. PR is responsible for managing sponsorships and community relationships and is used to communicate each message going from the organisation to its publics. It is used to manage, build and maintain a positive reputation. The reputation and positive corporate image is an important organisational asset and any potential scandal is a threat to business survival. Crisis management is dependent on public relations as persuasion and creating narratives are also an important aspects of PR. The role of PR involves creating content for an organisation, from press releases to social media posts, in order to shape public opinion of the organisation.
So, what is it about a career in public relations that interests me so much?
I remember when I was a 17-year-old in my final year of school. Wondering what my next step in life would be on the Ulster University website searching for courses. With a profound background in drama, I knew I wanted to use my strong communication skills in the business world. When I read about the ‘Communication Management and Public Relations’ course, I remember thinking that I had never read something so suited to me. I loved the idea of a career in communications, all about building relationships and coming up with creative ways to engage with the public. It is evident that public relations is a career path for strong communicators and creative individuals. I have always had a passion for drama and from a young age, I have always thrived in performing arts. As a child, I loved putting on performances for my family, which led to me attending drama classes outside of school and studying the subject for GCSE and A-Level. Drama has developed my confidence, my ability to think creatively, my improvisation skills and most importantly my communication skills. Performing and storytelling was something that came naturally to me. In its own way, public relations is quite like storytelling, as it is all about taking control of the narrative and portraying the story in a positive light.
Public Relations provides the opportunity to work across many sectors and is a profession that communicates to a range of audiences. As public relations is such a broad course, I loved the idea of the variety of career paths that it could lead me down and that it wouldn’t just tie me down to one single job role. I believe that public relations is all about personality and I loved the idea of a career that would allow me to be creative and share my ideas. I am a creative and independent individual and I’m able to think on my feet. I want a career in a fast-paced environment, and it is definitely safe to say that public relations is always changing.
During my time in university, students were encouraged to write blog posts for the Ulster PR Student Blog Page. This was something that I found very intimidating at first and as I have dyslexia, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to articulate my writing. It was only in October of 2020 that I was given a blog post assignment. This gave me the opportunity to write my first very own blog. To me, it did not feel like work! I genuinely loved writing and I had the opportunity to discuss whatever topic I wanted to and was able to analyse something, while expressing my own opinion combined with what I’ve learned at university. That was when I realised that this is something that I should pursue.
So I started up my own blog page, as well as posting on the Ulster PR Student Blog. Starting up my own blog page gave me so much confidence and a unique opportunity to use my own life experiences, my opinions and what I have learned in university as a student. It has increased my social media presence and has given me more content opportunities. I enjoy challenging what I learn from university and paying attention to current affairs and staying informed about societal issues. I have discovered a love for writing about my own life experiences as a student and providing commentary and opinion on businesses’ public relations strategies. My blog page has given me the opportunity to provide evidence of professional writing to future employers and in turn, has helped me develop my understanding of public relations. I hope to continue my blog as a way of boosting my career in a competitive industry as a digital PR publisher and triumph over the competition.
Studying Public Relations has completely opened my eyes to the business world and its power to change public perspectives. I am genuinely fascinated by public relations and its role within business and I am a big believer that we can learn from the past, whether that be significant public relation successes or disasters. I love the idea of working in an industry that values creativity, new ideas and the chance to be a part of a success story. I think it is safe to say that public relations will now and forever be a big part of my life. I can’t seem to watch a movie or a TV show without thinking critically about their public relations. I dream of becoming a successful public relations practitioner, making big changes in the PR industry (and a lot of money…I hope).