If you are a PR student at N.C. State, I’m sure you’ve heard of Professor Bob Larson, who teaches courses such as Intro to PR, PR Writing, and PR Case Studies. The first time I took one of Professor Larson’s classes, I made a point to introduce myself to him and ask for advice. This was my first semester junior year, and I had just switched into a Communication major from the Engineering department. I needed to play all the catch up that I could, and I wanted advice.
Luckily, Professor Larson gave me just the advice I needed: Join PRSSA, and start writing for the Technician. Obviously, I accomplished goal one, and thus, here I am. I am your event coordinator this year which has already given me some great experience. Next semester, I’m planning PR Day which will be a good event management resume booster.
I also joined the Technician staff last year as a viewpoint columnist. After a semester as a staff writer, I moved up to deputy editor. This semester, I’ve been one of the deputy news editors. There are so many benefits I’ve gained from this experience, including:
Better writing: I’m sure this one goes unsaid, but constant writing makes you a better writer. I probably write four or five articles a week for the Technician, several blog posts per month for my internship, and several press releases for a second internship. It’s easy for me to come up with what to say, how to organize it, and how to make it “sound good.” And, I can do it quickly as well. I probably spent 20 minutes in total on this blog post.
Better work under pressure: The Technician takes a lot of time. A lot. I have to try and track down sources, do my pre-interview research, spend time interviewing sources, do follow-up interviews and then write the article. The actual writing process only takes about 20 percent of the time. If I were not prioritizing my week and keeping an extremely organized calendar, I wouldn’t get anything done. It was very stressful at the beginning of this semester to try and juggle everything around, but it taught me how to keep a to-do list and actually follow it.
Better relationships with campus officials: I’ve gotten to cover some pretty cool topics and events. I’ve been in the same room as Chancellor Woodson, I’ve sat with vice chancellors in Holiday Hall, and I’ve gotten to talk to some researchers who have been working on things such as solar power, electric cars and even dinosaurs. I feel much more connected to campus than I did beforehand, and it’s great to say I helped contribute to informing the student body during my time here.
Better phone etiquette: I conduct almost all of my interviews on the phone. One of the criticisms of our generation is that we don’t handle ourselves well on the phone, which is largely true. But thanks to my time at the Technician, I’ve gotten more professional, and it’s no longer awkward to leave someone a voicemail!
Better understanding of the PR process: We learn in class about journalism, but I didn’t really understand what a journalist wanted until I became one. As a PR professional, I’ll be dealing with journalists all the time. It helps to know how they think. I also deal with a lot of PR people. Some are good. Some are not. By making note of the things that helped me as a journalist, I can be sure to practice the same good habits in my career.
Better resume: I’ve sat through my fair share of interviews for internships and jobs after college. Every time, I get asked about two things: My PR agency experience and my experience as a writer for the Technician. Every time.
I encourage you to join the Technician staff because it really will make you a better student and a better PR professional. If you’re interested, contact Sam DeGrave at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m sure he’d love to talk to you!