Q. I’m a second semester junior journalism major, but I decided to pick up a minor in PR since there will be more job possibilities upon graduation. I now need to decide an emphasis area and I’m torn between media relations and social media. Your thoughts? -LP
A. I posed your question to a young media pro from Ogilvy, and he argued in favor of media relations. So I asked an Edelman social media pro the same question and was surprised she agreed. They noted that a growing number of young PR professionals hate media pitching so they gravitate to keyboard-based communications to avoid one-on-one phone and email pitching.
Media relations has been a focus of my entire public relations career, largely inspired by my college experience as editor of my campus paper and first post-graduation job as a reporter. Through your journalism major, you’ve already demonstrated interest in telling stories. Your J-major combined with additional practical PR training should position you well in the job market next year. But don’t ignore engaging fully in social media. The combination of the two almost gurantees a successful start to your public relations career.
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I don’t believe they have to be mutually exclusive Ron. Social likely engages strategic publics beyond just the media, so having a mastery of social and traditional media relations can only strengthen this future journo/public relations professional. What traditional media relations does is help foster and develop human communications skills — the ability to persuade a synical public to listen and perhaps even retell your story. That skill transcends media relations and becomes increasingly valuable as the young practitioner becomes a seasoned professional — selling and persuading happen everyday in the life of an organizational communicator.