We’re Taking Over the World! (Or Not.)

Dilbert 04/09/08The purpose of this post is to discuss two themes of public relations encompassed in the above comic: employers’ opinions of my generation and our new media knowledge’s value. This topic is popular to blog about; you can read Lindsey Durrell’s thoughts here and Kelli Matthews’ here.

One of my mentors, the general manager for a boutique public relations firm in Portland, Oregon told me, “No one wants to hire new grads right now.” She cited her negative experience with someone in a recent graduating class: she offered a graduating senior a $200-a-week part-time internship because the student only had one internship prior. The student demanded an account coordinator position and eventually ended up not working there at all.

A former internship supervisor and arts marketing manager explained that she thinks my generation is too arrogant when it comes to employment. She told one of her employees who also wants to eventually be an arts marketing manager that she needs to gain sales experience to accomplish that goal. The employee, who graduated four years before me, rejected this idea. This same mentor believes it’s too much for me to expect to start as an entry-level member of a public relations or marketing team; I should be willing to work as an administrative assistant as many members of her generation started. Other professionals I’ve talked to this school year have contested this opinion.

Many of us know that there’s also disagreement within the public relations world as to the value of new media fluency. The non-profit sector, which is what I’m interested in working for, tends to focus its public relations on traditional media relations much more than agencies and large corporations. None of my six past internship sites have published a blog either internally or externally, though some have successfully posted to Web calendars. Of course, one of the aspects of new media relations education is learning that extensive new media is not appropriate for all clients.

Due to my interest in non-profit marketing communications, I tend to hardly mention my new media experience in cover letters and interviews. However, both times I’ve shared my most up-to-date portfolio with professionals, they were more impressed by my experience creating and posting a YouTube video, which you can view here. Since then, I’ve been experimenting with playing up my new media experience, so far to no avail.

In my opinion, the core competencies of public relations practitioners are communication and planning, which will not change with technology. However, public relations practitioners should be aware of new media so that they can use their planning and communication skills to advise their clients or employers on how and if to use it. My generation should use their new media skills to add an online dimension to personal branding. A good blog and E-portfolio is an accessible way to prove that you can plan and communicate.

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2 Comments on “We’re Taking Over the World! (Or Not.)”

  1. kadetcomm Says:

    You touched on some pretty key points here. The issue isn’t that the agencies don’t value young peoples’ new media knowledge — it’s that neither you nor they have figured out how their clients will profit from it.

    It takes a particularly creative and enterprising student or graduate to translate managing their social lives and keeping up with friends and interests on social networks to helping a company move product, improve reputation, manage a brand, etc.

    You’re right about communications, planning and what I like to call “storytelling” being eternal in PR, regardless of the media channel… I think if millenials are out there to learn something about business, eventually they’ll show their value in helping navigate new media on their behalf.

  2. Wow, Beth. I can’t imagine someone recommending that you intern right out of college, given the six internships you have completed and your outstanding portfolio. In fact, if a student has had one substantive internship before graduating, he or she should get an entry-level position — not an internship. Of course there are exceptions — perhaps the student has not mastered writing skills, but all things being equal, a student with an internship should be prepared for an account coordinator or other entry-level position.

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