By: Katie Gerweck
As students, we are always looking for opportunities to sharpen our skills and better prepare ourselves for our future careers. Although we get experience through our public relations classes, there are other ways to improve as well. Students looking to strengthen their writing and other skills should consider taking a journalism class or working for the school paper. This experience gives students valuable practice with some of the same skills we use in public relations. For example:
As public relations professionals we will be expected to write high quality pieces in a short period of time, and journalists face similar time limits. It is not uncommon for a student journalist to attend an event on a Tuesday night, and to have the story due Wednesday morning. Covering events for a school newspaper is a good way to improve your writing speed, and get you in the habit of writing under pressure.
Journalists and public relations professionals both use the Associated Press stylebook when writing, so journalistic writing is a good way to exercise your AP style knowledge. Copy editing for a paper, or taking a copy editing class, is another way to familiarize yourself with AP style. It can help with your grammar knowledge as well.
Understanding what is newsworthy
We are taught as public relations students to ask ourselves “So what?” and “Who cares?” when writing press releases and other materials. It is important that we understand what is newsworthy so we can grab our readers’ attention. Journalists work in the same way, especially when they write hard news stories, which are written in the inverted pyramid style. Writing hard news stories can get students accustomed to quickly discerning what is newsworthy in their story, and organizing the information accordingly. Writing hard news is also a great way to learn more about quotes and proper attribution, which lend credibility to the story.
Overall, taking a journalism class or working for a school newspaper are good options for students looking to strengthen their writing in a different environment.
Katie Gerweck is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in journalism. She is the editor-in-chief for EMU PRSSA, and also works as a copy editor for the Eastern Echo. She is the copy chief for the Echo during the summer of 2015.