How a Liberal Arts Education Prepared Me for the ‘Real World’ of PR

Posted by on January 23rd, 2013

People say that college is the best four years of your life; and for me at least, this saying rings true. But come senior spring and the point that (almost) every liberal arts college soon-to-be grad gets to: the panicky realization of ‘what am I going to do with my life and how did four years of reading, writing and arguing over literature prepare me for this?!’

Aside from the initial panic I felt, I can tell you that my liberal arts education prepared me for the ‘real world’ in many unexpected ways. Writing for public relations is drastically different than writing a paper about Marxist theories on capitalism. But this does not mean that I do not regularly utilize the skills I learned in college; I just do so in a different way.

Below are some key skills I frequently use as an account executive in public relations and the ways in which my college education prepared me to utilize them.

  • Be concise. While for a college paper, one can use lengthy explanations and evidence, a PR pitch must be short, concise and grab the reader immediately. A pitch where the reader must search for importance or meaning is a lost lead. I do not get bogged down in the fluff that once served as fillers for college papers and instead use direct messaging.
  • You can be creative- but in different ways! Professors urged me to think outside of the box, to be as creative and unique as possible. While this mindset is very different from my writing now, it helped me to find my voice. I realized that I can express my personal voice in writing for public relations through strategies that grab the readers’ attention.
  • Choose language carefully. A press release must be easily digestible and get the point across- illustrious words that impressed professors in college will alienate readers who do not understand them. After writing hundreds of pages of essays in college, I learned how to choose precise words to apply to the appropriate audience.
  • Think on your feet. When corresponding with a reporter or potential lead, it is important to keep messaging directed to the goal. Years of sitting in seminars discussing sociological theories greatly enhanced my ability to think on my feet and generate concise arguments that get my point across.
  • Know the news. Reading thousands of pages of theory and research trained me to digest material quickly and understand the key messaging. Now I apply this to my daily routine of staying on top of the news and also to understanding my clients’ businesses.

During my time here at KCSA I have realized that my four years at a liberal arts college gave me the foundation I needed to strategically communicate in public relations.