Advice to the class of '08: Blogging is an essential for new PR practitioners

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.