Relationships in public relations: why it’s important to start now

By: Leah Rodriguez

October is Relationship Month for PRSSA, and while professors constantly drill into us the importance of establishing relationships with peers, professionals, journalists, and the media it is important to understand why we should be establishing these relationships early on.

According to the PRSSA Relationship Manual, “The relationships you form as a Chapter but also the ones that you form individually with PRSA members will be vital to your professional development. Creating a professional, mentoring relationship between yourself and a PRSA member is one of the best ways you can utilize the connection between PRSSA and PRSA. Even beyond PRSSA, mentorship is an invaluable tool to expand your network, continue learning and maintain accountability and credibility as a professional” (source).

This statement can also be true for the relationships we carry as we grow into our careers and leave universities behind. I have been fortunate enough to establish multiple mentoring relationships with my peers and professors. I’ve learned that not only am I able to learn from those who teach me, but I am able to teach others.

The earlier we form professional relationships the better. Upon graduating, it is our connections that we will reach out to for finding employment opportunities; we will seek advice on how to improve our writing; and use the connections we currently have to create new ones. According to prconversaations.com “relationships are in the DNA of PR – in fact, the name itself indicates the function manages relations with publics” (source). We can take the lessons our professors teach us about relationship management, and use them to gain the mentoring relationships that shape our careers.

So how do we, as students, go about establishing important relationships? In my experience I’ve found most PR practitioners are willing to offer their knowledge to the new generations on professionals. Just as they’re anxious to learn from us!

  • Attend PRSSA networking events such as workshops, conferences, meetings, networking events, etc.
  • Search companies and agencies online and reach out to their HR managers about setting up an informational interview with an account manager.
  • Take to LinkedIn: message someone in the niche you might be interested in and ask them to coffee.
  • Reach out to your professors and program coordinators.

There are so many ways to meet people and gain mutually beneficial relationships. Just as it is important to establish these connections, it’s also important to maintain them. Try to keep in touch with anyone and everyone that might have helped you along the way. Advice is never limited and we can always learn more from one another.

Leah Rodriguez is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. This is her second year on EMU PRSSA’s executive board, having served as VP of PR and VP of Special Events and Programs in 2014-2015. She is the social media intern for EMU’s College of Arts & Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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