Laura Petrolino

Back-to-School Guide for the PR Professional

By: Laura Petrolino | August 24, 2015 | 

Back to School Guide for the PR ProfessionalBy Laura Petrolino

It’s back-to-school time!!


New books, new classes, new teachers, a new Trapper Keeper®!!!!

Do Trapper Keepers still exist? I hope so. It pains me to think children today do not know the excitement of Trapper Keepers.

(I just Googled it, they do! Whew!)

I miss back to school time! I miss school in general.

I secretly still believe I’m 18…but that has nothing to do with this post.

The purpose of this post is to remind you—the saavy PR professional—just because you might no longer “officially” be a student, doesn’t mean you can’t participate in some of the awesome rituals of back to school time.

After all, as a PR professional part of your job is to constantly be learning.


So what better way to celebrate this fact than some back-to-school check-ins to make sure you make getting your learn on a priority in the year to come.

Learn Something New


(Sorry, something about writing a back to school post makes me want to revert to the linguistic enhancements of a 13-year-old.)

What better way to go “back-to-school” as a PR professional then to…well, actually go back to school.

There are so many different opportunities to continue learning in a structured setting, both online and off.

You could:

  • Take a class at a nearby college or university.
  • Take a online course, such as one offered by Udemy, Coursera, or Lynda
  • Do a self-produced and self-guided course (in college I think we called this “interdisaplinary studies,” where you decide an area you want to improve on and gather a variety of resources together to do so.
  • Sign up when we re-launch Spin Sucks Pro in November (this option should obviously just be checked by default).

The important thing here is to have a plan and be accountable to it.

In school you showed up, read the assignments, and did your homework because you needed to in order to pass and move forward. You were accountable to a teacher, a grade, maybe your parents—and you wanted to get to the next level or course.

As a PR professional you need to be accountable to yourself. This is what’s called being an adult.

So make a plan and stick to it. Otherwise other priorities will take over and you’ll flunk out.

Find a Teacher

Or a mentor.

I’m pretty lucky because I work for one of mine.

You might also work for, or with, a mentor of your own.

But it doesn’t have to be that way and as a PR professional you have an amazing community of colleguages to work with and learn from.

I also challenge you to expand your definition of mentor.

I have several mentors. Some of them know I see them this way, some of them actually don’t.

These are people who I respect for one reason or another and learn from, either directly or indirectly. In some cases they are just people who challenge me to think a different way—and this is a necessity for every PR professional and every human.

See Yourself as a Student

It is far better to go into each day as if you know nothing at all vs. thinking you have it all figured out.

The former keeps you open to all the lessons around you in every day life and as your work as a PR professional.

Resist the urge to think you know it all. Constantly question yourself and what more there is to know. Don’t let yourself become complacent in your knowledge on a topic.

A Trapper Keeper for the PR Professional

Organize your learning.

I have a folder on my computer and a notebook where I keep lessons, questions, challenges. These are my Trapper Keepers.

I also have the same for ideas. Because ideas can be overwhelming if they stick in your head for too long, and I think the tendency for a PR professional to have an idea bucket which is constantly overflowing is pretty high.

I would need an army to execute on all the ideas I come up with on a daily basis. And the more you learn, the more ideas you’ll have, so you must be prepared to deal with them.

There you have it.

Don’t let back to school time pass you by without jumping on the bandwagon.

Learning never ends for a PR professional, so make sure you make the grade.

(I also hope Trapper Keeper sponsors me after this post)

Image courtesy of Pixabay

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.