Narrowing Focus / by Jasmine Tate

Each year thousands of students pursue degrees in public relations hoping to be the next Samantha Jones or Olivia Pope.  After discovering the profession, my goal was to earn a degree and become a practitioner.

“You can’t find a job in public relations by searching Monster.com.”
-          Joseph Mirando, PhD. , Professor, Southeastern Louisiana University

Dr. Mirando drilled this into my head throughout my undergraduate career. When expressing my desire to work in public relations, most people ask what that entails. The public relations profession uses simple yet strategic practices for a large variety of responsibilities. In addition, there are many different directions and disciplines you can take.  Three elements to consider:

1.      Corporate vs. Agency

2.      Public vs. Private

3.      Industry

 Credit:  Aldos80

Credit: Aldos80

As I worked to gain experience in a number of ways, I was able to evaluate my skills and interests to change my response when asked about my career aspirations. 

I once answered “I want to be a public relations professional.” My answer now is: “My long-term career goal is to become the community relations director for a professional sport's team.”

That reply often prompts greater discussion, but it is much more focused. My passions for service and sports merge through the role of a community relations professional. While that concept is simple, I took a much more strategic approach to narrowing my interest. There are several ways to discover the best fit for you in the communications or public relations industries. I wanted to share the process I took to discover my desire to become a community relations director and begin my pursuit of success as a professional.

What you need

-          Experience (volunteer experience, internships, jobs, class projects, etc.)

-          Legal notepad/ writing paper

-          Writing utensil

Instructions

-          Find a quiet area with a limited possibility of distractions.

-          Identify your passions and solid skills.

-          Think about your previous experiences.

-          Make three lists.

1.      Things you like about each experience

2.      Things you don’t like about each experience

3.      Things that will be required as an industry standard

-          Compare your lists to gauge the industries, roles and responsibilities of positions that align with your passions, interests and skills.

Note: This method can also be completed on a computer. Use the most comfortable tools for you. 

Although I didn’t complete this process until the start of my last semester of graduate school, it can be applied earlier in your academic career and allow greater opportunities to gain experience and connections. Even after you narrow your focus, always be open to other possibilities.

Are you a public relations professional or aspiring practitioner? What steps did you take to narrow your focus? Are you struggling with which PR path to take? Try my method. Please share your results.

XX,

Jasmine C. Tate