Senior year of high school, as any senior can tell you, consists of various adults questioning What college are you going to next fall? and What are you majoring in? Of course it was easy to announce I was going to attend The University of Texas, but when it came down to my major, everyone seemed to have the same reaction: a raised eyebrow. To be honest, if you asked me throughout high school if I ever considered Public Relations as a major, I too would question what the heck it was. Initially, I had intended on majoring in something along the lines of political science or international business and then pursue the pre-law route and become a lawyer. But after four years in the law magnet at my high school, I came to realize that I no longer wanted anything to do with the legal field. Yes, I respect those who wish to take that route, but it just wasn’t for me.
When I was applying for colleges, I ranked business and management as my top choices for basically every school I applied to and public relations as my second choice. I was accepted into all business programs except for one – the one at the college I would actually attend. When I arrived at orientation, my mind was dead set on taking prerequisites and transferring into the business school. However, after some extensive thinking, research and advising, I decided to stay. For some reason, a part of me kept repeating the words everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for everyone. I hate to sound cliche and make a religious reference, but those were my exact thoughts.
So what is public relations? Public relations, according to Edward Bernays, the first person to ever define PR is:
… a management function that tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures, and interests of an organization followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.
But what does that actually mean? To me, public relations is if the field of marketing and advertising decided to get together with journalism and produce a business child that would promote and protect the image management of companies.
This past semester I became an active member in the Public Relations Student Society of America, the student chapter of the national Public Relations Society of America. PRSA launched a campaign during my first semester to find what PR means to students, professionals, professors and anyone else interested in the public relations industry. However, even the society has not announced a definite response as to what it actually is. I believe that public relations is a flexible degree to pursue because it really does combine business and writing. And now, with social media coming into play, PR has become more powerful than ever. PR isn’t just about pitching news stories and press releases, now it encompasses media planning, crisis management and media’s role in a company’s image.
So what does this mean for my future as a student of public relations? It means that I can breathe and prepare myself for the intense world of public relations. Although the industry is classified as the second most stressful career path one could pursue, I’m the type of person that somewhat feeds off of stress and uses it to my advantage. Last night, however, I did sit down and really think about the path I was pursuing. There is always the constant fear of not being able to succeed after undergraduate graduation. The fear of spending four years pursuing a degree and then finding out one is jobless and intensely in debt. There is a part of me that does wonder what would have happened if I had just followed the advice of my parents and majored in a natural science and declare a pre-medicine route. As cheesy as it may sound, I know deep down that pre-med would not make me happy. Yes, I admire the work of all my peers that have the patience and intelligence to follow that path, but it simply isn’t for me.
The public relations industry is a stressful one to desire to enter, but with dedication and a ton of networking, I think I can manage to break into it and be able to wake up and actually enjoy coming to work each day.
This post was also featured in Deej’s Daily Dish 🙂