Tip for PR Students: Follow Current Events (Take Your Medicine)

Today at the West Michigan PRSA chapter event on using video in public relations campaigns, I talked to a couple of people about the accelerating trend of college students being virtually unaware of current events.  One person I spoke to was amazed by how disconnected students at one particular university were – and how refreshing it was to interview Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students because they were much more attuned to the world around them because of requirements for their degree programs (so props to my alma mater).

If you’re a PR student (or really any student working toward a degree in any profession – particularly business) – you can really distinguish yourself from other internship/job-seeking students by being fluent in current events, which is increasingly becoming scarce.  In PR, news is the practically the air you breathe.

It makes perfect sense of course, and it’s not an indictment of the youth of America – it’s just a practical reality of the myriad new options we have for consuming information.  We have thousands of TV channels, millions of websites, and hundreds of different forms of entertainment options (from video gaming systems to social networking sites).

The best part is, it’s not hard; you can set up any number of ways to follow the news (and virtually any TYPE of news, given the granularity with which the content is sorted/segmented):

  • Browse: Set virtually any news site (npr.org), portal (news.google.com) or social news site (like Digg or Reddit) as your start page in your browser and look them over every time you launch it.
  • Email/Text: Sign up for Google Alerts and get SMS texts of news updates throughout the day (or a digest all at once).
  • Feed Readers: Use a feed reader like Google Reader and sign up for RSS feeds of news from any of the millions of news feeds offered by thousands of news sites
  • Facebook: Friend or “Like” any major news organization (I recommend NPR) on Facebook and news/information will show up with all of the other updates sandwiched between Farmville enticements and wall posts from your friends.

What’s happening in the rest of the world invariably affects you no matter what you plan to do with your education; new laws, economic developments, research findings, and profiles of community leaders will invariably affect your employer no matter what your calling is.

Yeah, a lot of it isn’t as interesting as whatever Megan Fox is up to this moment, but just like exercise or downing Robitussin when you’ve got a cough – it’s something you need to do.

One thought on “Tip for PR Students: Follow Current Events (Take Your Medicine)

  1. Tim Penning, Ph.D., APR says:

    You mentioned this to me at the meeting Derek. Thanks for the blog follow up. It is good advice for any student, but especially those who want to work in PR. I know I encourage my students to read mainstream media as well as PR trades, and refer to current news frequently in all my classes, hoping to start them on the habit.


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