Four things they don't teach you about PR at university

Something about starting my career in PR reminds me of the advanced mathematics textbook I used to slave over in high school back when I was 18 years old.

Practice can be very different to theory in PR, writes Maria Temneanu
Practice can be very different to theory in PR, writes Maria Temneanu

That little red book made me realise that no matter how frightening Maths appeared at first, once you memorise the basic algorithmic procedures behind it, you can conquer any challenge.

I was brought up believing nothing is untameable if you know the rules by heart.

But as my PR degree progressed, I realised it was governed by more ambiguous laws and unspoken guidelines.

So I went out into the real world and created my own little red book to guide my steps.

1. The pitch

Universities love their fake, simulated new business pitches – so much so that you end up working on dozens of big projects for glamorous ‘clients’ during your academic years.

Being able to nail the big pitch is great practice, but if you’re a junior it can also create a distorted picture of what PR actually is.

Imagine watching somebody climb a mountain from a passing plane, versus being down there taking each step towards the summit - you need both perspectives to succeed.

I found that working in PR means leaning into the "unglamorous" more than you’d expect.

Executing simple tasks nurtures an understanding and passion for detail, which drives young people toward effective processes.

And that is where innovation lies. Not on Don Draper’s whiteboard tripod.

2. The countdown

At university we’re conditioned to believe the sooner we start a task and the more time we spend toiling over it, the better the result. That’s a myth.

Real PR means "the best version in the time you have".

The difficulty lies in the fact that your body isn’t genetically wired to work on a deadline, and the discipline it takes to train yourself will push your mind to its utmost uncomfortable limits. It will hurt – but it will be worth it.

3. The press release

At university, we learn how to memorise, photocopy(!) and regurgitate traditional press releases before we can even hold a pen.

This can make you feel like there’s nothing more to corporate writing than the occasional news statement.

I now know, far from reigning over the PR industry like they used to, press releases have become just another way of framing information; you must acknowledge their presence in some people’s eyes, but also master all the other pitching techniques.

Ultimately, the context dictates how you announce news, and paying attention to the factors framing it will lead to the right medium.

4. The ultimate rule

It’s easy to rebel against your course, but ultimately university is one of the most important stepping stones to a good career.

It taught me to be original and think for myself. It forced me to see things differently and act on them.

And most importantly, it made me write my own little book – and continue its legacy. Stay tuned for next chapter.

Maria Temneanu is an intern at Augur

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