Laura Petrolino

The 2020 Back-to-School Guide for the PR Professional

By: Laura Petrolino | August 31, 2020 | 
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Back to School Guide for the PR ProfessionalIt’s back-to-school time!!

Woohoo!

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

Do Trapper Keepers still exist? I hope so. It pains me to think my child might 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.

And while I know back to school is a…um…a bit more stressful this year and not necessarily the norm in any way for student or teacher (meaning in many cases, all you parents out there), it’s still a time busing with the desire to learn and grow.

It’s Time for Everyone To Learn

The purpose of this post is to remind you—the saavy PR professional—just because you might not “officially” be a student, it 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.

Plus, now you can do it right along with your kids! #brightside

(I know how difficult this situation is for all of you amazing working parents. I’m definitely not making light of it! But sometimes we just have to take a moment to roll our eyes and laugh in exasperation about the ridiculousness of it all.)

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

Duh!?!

What better way to go “back-to-school” as a PR professional then to…well, actually go back to school. Virtually and socially distanced, of course.

There are so many different opportunities to continue learning in a structured setting online

You can:

  • Take a class through a college or university. This is easier than ever now. And with endless options since so many have switched to online courses.
  • Take an online course, such as one offered by Udemy, Coursera, or LinkedIn Learning
  • 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.
  • Become PESO Model Certified (this option should obviously just be checked by default).

The important thing here is to have a plan and be accountable for 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 and your career. This is what’s called being an adult.

There will NEVER be enough time. It will never be the right time. There will never be extra money for professional development.

But what will always exist is the cost of missed opportunity because you didn’t take (as little as) an hour each week to grow your skills and career.

It’s mere economics. 

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 colleagues to work with and learn from.

The Spin Sucks Community is a good place to start.

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.

And ALWAYS, always question your bias.

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 PR professionals to have idea buckets which are constantly overflowing is pretty high.

I would need an army to execute on all the ideas I come up with on a daily basis. Put Gini and I together in an idea factory and we’d make enough ideas for several planets worth of people.

And the more you learn, the more ideas you’ll have, so you must be prepared to deal with them. Productively.

Don’t let them escape completely. You never know when you’ll be able to pull one up again and put it to use. But don’t let them distract you either.

Class is in Session for the PR Professional

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 article)

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.