Should you be acquiring public relations skills through academics only?

Skills and performance at work are strongly linked to each other and in these days from the governments to the corporates look into this in myriad ways all over the world. And not only output and performance but also job satisfaction and happiness at work is intrinsically linked with the skill sets an individual possesses. Traditionally, we have been brought up with a mindset of good schooling, good marks, good competitive exams, good degrees and then good jobs.

Academics have always been at the forefront in most of our career seeking situations. However, it was always because someone else had benchmarked their achievements concerning jobs and degrees. Most often the quality of education, curriculum offered was rarely linked with contemporary and real-life practices at work earlier. The existence of a skill gap in the talent and their expected outcome of performance in any work setup isn’t a new thing and the public relations industry is not far from such a situation.

The world of public relations is pretty interesting from that perspective as it requires a variety of skill sets, which are though commonly found but not practiced by most of the working professionals, ironically. Public relations being a function of communication has its roots in information and knowledge, which when delivered in a planned format through a proper messaging via relevant channels of communication triggers a change in behaviour of the targeted audience.

With the audience being of varied profiles and clients coming from extremely diverse fields, the work of public relations professionals are always livened by a multitude of interests, specialties, and situations. This also makes an exciting proposition for professionals who believe in growing continuously by constantly learning and developing themselves.

Yes, there are schools, colleges, and universities offering specialised courses today that offer a planned and structured curriculum for aspiring public relations professionals. And there are rigorous academic routines, case studies, discussions, research papers, assignments and tasks including on the job learnings forming a part of these curricula. But considering that it is among a few of the fastest-growing sectors during the last 2-3 decades, there is a constant shortage of professionals and an abundance of skill-shortage, when it comes to this profession.

However, having said this what is most important to understand is the very dynamic and constantly evolving nature of public relations and corporate communication challenges. A similar-looking communication problem can pose greatly different challenges if coming from diverse industries and audiences. Therefore, it is crucial and important for the communications professionals to be completely clued into the situations and developments on a real-time basis. This requires a public relations professional to possess a sharp vision and ability to assimilate, process, analyse the developing news around the issue.

Aptitude coupled with attitude can lead the way today as far as skilling is concerned among public relations professionals. Specialised institutes, which closely work with the industry by exposing the learners of the art of communications to the contemporary practices would always score over traditionally offered academic offerings having curricula structured decades ago that haven’t changed over time.

Age of web brings in umpteen resources to know, learn, educate, and adopt the best practices from leading practitioners. Blogs, articles, features, opinions, and comments make such wealthy content readily available on several industry-related websites today for the deserving and discerning ones. Another focus area for communications professionals could be researching, which gives a great opportunity for professional growth individually and also adds tremendous skills that can be utilised while at work in situations encountered almost daily.

It calls for a lot of reading, remaining updated with current events & developments, engaging and participating in the ongoing conversation in social media, etc., which can help you stay ahead even if you aren’t academically possessing degrees or certificates of courses/programs relevant to the profession!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

1 Comment on "Should you be acquiring public relations skills through academics only?"

  1. This is very relevant topic and very much pertinent also, the day has come where we have to change our old tools with newer version.

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