What is PR?

A question I asked myself numerous times leading up to my first day at Write2Market. I thought I would have the answer to my question by the end of day 1. Instead, it is now day 6 and the answer to “what is PR?” seems to evolve each and every day. So what did I learn in my first week?

A job in PR means a job in client x, y, and z.

Like any career, you have to become knowledgeable about the industry or space you are working in. When it comes to PR, however, you don’t simply “study up” on the PR industry… you focus on the industries of your clients. The only reason I bring this up is because it was unexpected. If you get an internship at a strategy management consulting firm, of course you aren’t going to become an expert in strategy management and call it a day. You are going to become an expert in the areas your clients are practicing business in. The same goes for PR. There is the writing, the reading, and of course the pitching. But there is also the researching… and no, you aren’t googling “what is PR?” You are typing your client’s name into the browser and spending the next 8 hours reading up on what they do, what makes them special and why there is a story to be told.

PR is all about people, right?

I was telling a friend about my new job in PR and he responded, “oh, that’s perfect for you!” I asked him why he said that and he then paused and a little less confidently asked, “well, PR is about people, right?” This slowly became a normal occurrence. PR and the word ‘people’ seem to be synonymous, for a large number of friends in my social network (which consists of 19-23 year old college students).  PR is NOT strictly about people. It involves people, and people are very important, but PR is not people.

Small v. Big Internships Opportunities in Atlanta

Finally, I have gained some insight into working for a smaller firm. When undergraduate business students at Emory look for internships, the norm seems to be big corporations that are well established and have huge internship programs–like Deloitte and Touche, Citibank or Bain and Company.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to gain experience outside of this norm. Write2Market is a small firm, with roughly 10 employees.

There are a lot of pros to working at a smaller firm, but the one at the top of my list: doing instead of training. Many find comfort in the idea of starting an internship at a big firm with a week of training and a few full-time employees that are strictly responsible for the interns. I would have to disagree with this idea of comfort. My first week was extremely uncomfortable because I knew nothing. However, by week two I was a little less uncomfortable and a lot more knowledgeable.

I am going to assume this trend will continue and by the end of week 12, I will be not just knowledgeable about PR and the clients I serve, but I will be comfortable, confident and purely satisfied with my internship experience. Big is great, don’t get me wrong. But small is powerful and uncomfortable – two things a 22-year-old college student should be begging for exposure to.