Jack O'Dwyer wrote recently about the upcoming PR Career Day that's being hosted by the NYU Student PRSA Chapter. He voices a number of problems he sees with the structure of the program, which I'll leave you to read for yourselves by clicking to his article here.
But one thing that troubles me is what Jack wrote about a similar PRSA Career Day in Georgia last year. At one of the panels, Jack reports, students in the audience were asked by the panelists if they read newspapers. Only a handful of students raised their hands. And these are young people hoping to make their living dealing with the news media.
Very few of them were aware of, much less read, any of the PR trade press, like Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter and others. Shouldn't their professors be tipping them off to these trade pubs, and maybe even making them required reading that might prompt classroom discussions?
Jack said,in his piece that "students, besides reading PR texts and listening to their professors,
should be reading O’Dwyer’s media and those of PR Week/U.S., PR News,
Bulldog Reporter, Ragan’s, PR Newser and blogs by Jane Genova, David
Reich, and the weekly podcast of Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, to
mention some of the sources." (I'm flattered he includes this blog among his suggested reading for PR students.)
Jack also noted that textbooks are far behind the fast-changing world of communications and he suggests that professors feel the PR trade press is competition to what they are teaching. Students exhibited sheep-like behavior in Georgia, he wrote, and he expects more of the same in New York.
One thing the PR Career Day organizers might consider is to invite some trade press people to speak on a panel. Another idea, which Jack suggests, is to have a resources table where free copies of the key trade pubs can be given to students. (Jack notes that the organizers are looking to charge big fees for anyone, including PR trade media, to display their wares at the Career Day. That seems a bit counter-productive, but it looks like the almighty buck prevails.)
Readers of this blog know I've long been an advocate of better education and training for young people coming into the PR profession. A key part of that education should be a real familiarity with news media -- especially newspapers, whether in print or online. And they also should have some awareness of the PR trade press, which can provide a good, up-to-date idea of issues and innovations in the public relations world they hope to enter.