Reading PR

Meet Payal Shukla, a student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring PR professional. During our first call I kept thinking to myself, ‘She is only asking the right questions.’ I’m excited to see what lies ahead in her PR career and honored she is sharing her thoughts here. Catch Payal tweeting as @payalshukla and learn more at her personal site.

“What do you read?” My advisor asked me.

“What do I… read?” I asked. Is this a trick question? I read… of course I read! I’m a collegiate, I thought.

“I am curious to know,” he explained. “What sorts of things do public relations professionals read?”

One week later I wound find the same question popping up in a blog post re-tweeted by Travis Kessel, a recruiter for Edelman-Chicago.

“Real-life interview questions used at Edelman,” he wrote of a video featuring Senior Vice President Phil Gomes.

Needless to say, the one question Gomes always is sure to ask: “What do you read?”

Why is it important to read up on your field? Obviously, you now know it is something interviewers are likely to ask of you (if you didn’t know already).

More importantly, reading books, news sites and blogs demonstrates a thorough understanding of PR. In other words, where did your field start, where is it now and where is it going? Not to mention that it is probably one of the easiest ways to begin developing a level of expertise that goes beyond just gaining experience! The lessons you can learn from autobiographies and memoirs can serve as guide to making the right career choices and breaking into public relations.

I personally believe “reading PR” encourages critical thinking and personal reflection – both of which will only make you grow more as a professional. Materials and information you gather can be applied to your current professional endeavors.

For example, by reading blog posts on building a social media platform, and engaging with authors for their tips, I was able to turn the lessons I learned into ideas I pitched to my supervisor. I got the best of both worlds – knowledge on an essential PR tool and a more fulfilling internship experience.

Obviously, I can’t write about reading PR sources without mentioning a few of my favorites. My go-to blogs include PR Breakfast Club and the Bad Pitch Blog. Both are hilarious, insightful and interactive with their readerships. For to-the-minute news, I turn to Publicity News and PR Week US.

As for books, I am currently working my way through Ronn Torossian’s list of “10 Must-Read Public Relations and Marketing Books.” My favorites so far include “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin and “Crystallizing Public Opinion” by Edward L. Bernays.

So to answer my advisor, “What do I read? Anything I can get my hands on.”

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One thought on “Reading PR

  1. Hi Phil,Thanks for reading! We have a Cramblit in common as well… I went to Illinois with Bill and lived with his girlfriend. – Stephanie

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