Centennial College’s Gary Schlee writes that the newest crop of students in his Online PR course are now setting up their blogs.
Gary is giving his students a real advantage in starting a career in PR. Those students who view their blogs as more than a class exercise, but also as an exciting way to connect and communicate with others who share their interests and passions, they will have started down the fast lane to a bright future in the new PR.
The old PR was about communicating messages to an audience. The new PR is about being part of a community.
In effect, students are taking the first step to developing their own online voices and finding people of like mind – becoming part of a community. This is the essence of the “relations” in public relations. It’s not a one-time thing. It should be a lifelong commitment. It will then turn into a lifelong asset, one which they can take with them wherever they work.
(Don’t be discouraged if early on it’s a community of only two or three. Remember, it’s not about numbers, it’s about trust.)
I do not hire entry level people without looking at their blog, following their twitter stream and checking their Facebook presence. I want a sense of who they are over time, not just when they are in my office. I want to know what they think on the issues they care about and how they express themselves. I want to see whether and how they connect with others. And I can find out all those things from their social media presence.
And then I will try to recruit the people who I believe not only have the strongest, clearest voices but also the ability to balance this with listening, respecting and responding to others in a way that makes them part of a healthy, positive community. These are the folks that I want to work with. And these are the folks I’ll look to hire.
So, in encouraging his students, Gary is providing them with a tremendous head start. I really look forward to the time when all PR educators are as forward looking as Gary.