Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New hires and interns--Unrealistic expectations?

Thanks again to our host, Tim Smith at Wagg-Ed, and our guests, Professors Erica Austin and Bruce Pinkleton from the WSU Murrow School of Communication for all the great discussion last Friday.

Friday's debate over the popularity of public relations as a major and the increasing competitiveness for certification at the WSU School of Communications morphed into a discussion about the quality of public relations interns and new graduates from Washington state universities in general.

One high-profile forum participant, owner of a premiere local PR firm, said he prefers new hires from East Coast for their motivation and competitive nature.

Other participants voiced frustration at the amount of time spent educating and training new hires who seem to lack the initiative to "figure out the answer on their own" or even to proofread their work before submitting it for review by their superior.

Can you teach initiative, confidence, responsibility and innovation?

Is it fair to expect PR programs to do this?

Are these things as important as strong writing skills, solid research capabilities and the ability to conduct a strategic communications campaign?

As hiring professionals, what do we want our universities to teach? What's our top priority?

Is it the University's responsibility to teach students a work ethic and professionalism or do the PR professionals who hire these interns play a role?

Is it unrealistic to expect interns or students right out of college to be ready to enter the workplace without significant coaching and guidance from their new employers? Are we willing to mentor these young professionals?

What were we like as interns and/or new graduates? Have we forgotten what it was like to be just starting out?

What do you think?

So you want to work in PR?

The PRSA Puget Sound introduced its new "Issues Forum" for senior practitioners with a lively discussion about public relations education at Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow School of Communication.

Featuring special guests, Professor Erica Austin, interim director of the School of Communication, and Professor Bruce Pinkleton, who teaches 300- to 500-level public relations classes, this first issues forum, hosted by Tim Smith at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide in Bellevue, sparked a series of spirited conversations.

Those of us who love our jobs can understand why public relations is one of the most highly sought majors at WSU. In fact, communications is among the most popular majors at WSU and the 7th most popular major nationwide.

Nearly 600 students were enrolled in communications at WSU in 2005 with a combined GPA of 3.0- the highest in the history of Murrow School certification. As the competition rises, more and more students are turned away. Is this a problem?

If so many students come to WSU to major in public relations that the Murrow School is regularly turning away large numbers of students, should the University increase resources in this area to allow more students into the program? Or is it a good thing that the minimum requirements to certify continue to rise as the competition increases?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting Socially Involved

A member survey in 2006 shared that professional development and networking (can we say social!) were top member value. We pulled off both, and had an amazing number of well-received casual events where PR professionals could engage and meet each other. More to come in 2007!

International Conference in 2006

The chapter hosted a gathering for students at the PRSA International Conference in Salt Lake City in 2006. Central Washington University students were there in full force. Details about the conference themes, speakers and content (including an overview of Tavis Smiley's key note), go to www.prsa.org.