Leveraging a Public Relations degree into Marketing

Written by:  Dillan Keene, AAE of CWU Collegiate Sports Clubs

public_relationsWhen I began school several years ago my initial pursuit was for a degree in journalism. Like many others, I succumbed to that sweet siren’s call of Public Relations after speaking with industry professionals who preferred the versatility of the degree. Throughout my education I’ve learned to appreciate the experience my education would give me and truly understand the versatility a PR degree can offer.

The beauty of a PR degree is how many tools you are given over the course of your academic career. The most useful skill I learned was to write in a variety of different styles, lending the weight your voice needs to express different ideas across different mediums. Having an arsenal of different voices at your disposal means an ability to move into a lot of different industries. For me, I ended up falling in love and pursuing a career of writing copy at a marketing agency, which incidentally, despite my education, still threw me a steep learning curve.

If you’re pursuing an internship as a copywriter at a marketing firm remember to use your degrees flexibility to meet the agency’s needs. Research the company and industry, see what is most likely to fit both your interests and passions. I chose copywriting as a focus but there are other jobs public relations practitioners can do such as: SEO Specialization, Event Planning, Project Managing and Social Media Management. Your qualification for these all depends on your experience and interests but your education will help you get a leg up into these positions.

Some tips that have, or would have, helped me:

  • Take an introductory course to graphic design. Although you might not be any good by the end of it, this base of knowledge lets you communicate more effectively with designers.
  • Communicate early and often. You’re surrounded by people with invaluable experience, use that environment as a training ground for yourself. Most people love to talk about their jobs and people who work in marketing are very passionate about what they do.
  • Show up early, leave late. This job requires a lot of passion to prosper in and if you’re cutting corners on the timesheet you can expect not to get calls back when the time comes.
  • Take notes on everything. No really, everything. There are so many industry terms I wasn’t familiar with that it took me a while to acclimate.
  • Read, read, read, and then read. Read whatever you can get your hands on regarding the industry. I would recommend “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This” by Luke Sullivan. It is wide and far considered the best introductory book for advertising as well as copywriting.

Marketing as an industry is always exciting and I loved working in it. That being said if you don’t like writing, do not pursue copywriting as a career. You will pour a lot of hours into keyboard, sometimes to have a client wipe the whole project back to square one. Most of all, remember that as a Public Relations major the greatest skill we have learned is the ability to adapt. We’re all career chameleons by the time we’re shutting the door on our academic chapters.


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