In a world of public relations specialists being a dime a dozen, the question we often find nagging us late at night is, “How exactly do we separate ourselves from the masses?” Specifically, where and how do we find our home in this fast-paced communications world? Well, for a struggling public relations student, Ron Culp has the answers…or at least most of them. Culp, director of the graduate PR & advertising program at DePaul University and 2015 PRSA Gold Anvil Award winner, shared some of his best advice with students at The University of Alabama’s PRSSA Southeastern Regional Conference in January.
“Don’t do as I did. Do as I say.” In short, Culp shared the importance of participating in public relations-oriented organizations, including PRSSA and AdFed. Too often we find ourselves guilty of joining organizations for “résumé fluff”; instead, Culp encourages students to actively engage and network in these key programs. If you are not a leader in your college years, how can you expect a future employer to see you as one?
A LinkedIn profile trumps paper résumé. Culp shared his opinion of LinkedIn’s dominance in the professional world, even going on to discuss how one’s LinkedIn profile should take precedence over a paper résumé. When companies like Ketchum, used as an example by Culp, find themselves overwhelmed with more than 1,000 résumés from internship-hungry applicants, LinkedIn represents an easy “weeding out” process.
How to go from students to PRos. Although it is hard to believe Culp once identified with the college student’s struggle of internship and job-hunting, he explained the necessary steps for landing and cultivating a career. In summary, all of the following are major keys in the job hunt: critical skills, opportunity, passion, networking, location, a résumé and a LinkedIn page. Furthermore, he gave students an inside look at an agency’s wish list for the qualities in an ideal candidate, with writing, a general understanding of business and knowledge of the business of public relations firms ranked as the top three.
Be better than the techies in Silicon Valley. Culp discussed the importance of workplace technological evolution. In order to stay with the times, we must grow with the advancements. This is where knowing and engaging in social media platforms, specifically Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, come into play. Other tips of his include following one’s favorite brands and corporations and reading the daily news, especially in your industry.
Undoubtedly, public relations is not a field for the timid or the weak, and Ron Culp transmitted this message in his presentation. In order to achieve and maintain success, we must be the ones to go out and work for it. Yes, there are thousands of students working for the same thing as you, but you have the ability and means to distinguish yourself from the pack. As Culp stressed, dreams do come true, but only if one has the necessary drive and passion to reach them.
What will you do to achieve your dreams in the communications world?
-by Maret Montanari, Assistant PRSA Liaison
Maret Montanari is the assistant PRSA liaison for The University of Alabama's PRSSA chapter and assistant account executive at Capstone Agency. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.