by Alissa Mead, Write2Market Intern

Public Relations, as with any industry, has its own unique vocabulary and jargon, and as a recent college graduate who majored in public relations, I thought I would be ahead of the game.  I was surprised however, to discover how much information was not covered in my classes or in the ridiculously expensive textbooks that made my bank account hyperventilate. Life is a constant learning process including the numerous career-related lessons, and having a few quick terms under the belt certainly makes it easier.

Jargon

When I started my internship, small terms casually used around the office made me feel like a deer caught in headlights. It is hard to forget slaving away on papers covering extensive topics such as formal research methods, risk management and effective message development – yet there was no media relations vocabulary quiz. If your boss asks you to find edcals for C-level publications it translates into: “find media calendars that list upcoming article topics for magazines and websites whose audiences are corporate-level executives.” And for the record, a writer’s beat refers to the subject matter he or she covers in a publication and has nothing to do with drumming abilities.

Pitching

The one story pitch I was required to write in my college PR class would have better prepared me for the PR world if that assignment had been extended into an entire class. A lot of the pitching process requires being strategic in who you pitch to, knowing what a specific reporter covers, how your pitch is delivered, and following up after the first contact.

Passion does not come with every subject

Studying PR in school was fun, but maybe a little too much fun.  I was responsible for choosing topics for many of my assignments, so naturally I chose what I was interested in or wanted to learn more about. In the real world, if your client is a dentist for crocodiles, you need to know everything about crocodile dentistry and sing its PRaises. It is important to recognize the value in what each client has to offer, to ensure the PR work to come from a place of appreciation and authentic advocacy. You may dread and groan at the thought of writing a press release about crocodile teeth until you learn to appreciate a good ole crocodile grin.

For newbies, there is so much to learn that even a four year degree might not be enough.  The best way to learn about PR functions is to associate yourself with experienced pros that can helpfully guide you through the foreign territory of media relations, key message development and pitching stories. Luckily for me, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from the outstanding PR professionals at Write2Market who have patiently taught me the lingo, provided me ample opportunities to pitch, and have given me beneficial insight into finding the value of every client.