Kelli Matthews is a public relations instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). She has been the faculty advisor for Allen Hall Public Relations (AHPR) for eight years, and when she was a student at the SOJC, she was on the first AHPR team. With years of experience, Matthews knows a thing or two about success in the public relations industry.
Q: What is the most important advice you have for budding public relations professionals?
A: I think that my biggest piece of advice is to be curious. Be curious about everything. Like how the world works, how news gets made. Just being active in organizations like AHPR, PRSSA or Oregon News associations really stem for being curious and making that attempt to fill your knowledge gaps. Even as you get in your profession, that curiosity will carry you a long way.
If you continue to be curious, you will pay attention to how to advance in your industry and your job. Curiosity will keep you up to date and, because everything changes so frequently in public relations, you really need to keep searching for those answers.
Q: You briefly touched on opportunities like PRSSA and AHPR, do you have any specific advice about how to get involved and build up a résumé?
A: I think that you should keep your eyes and ears open all the time. Opportunities may not always come in the form of a formal interview. There are lots of ways to gain exposure and to learn about the (PR) industry to be exposed to the environment, jobs and structure outside of formal settings. The point is really to keep your eyes open for opportunities that may not be directly related to a job experience. It’s not just about getting three internships on your resume because that’s what supposedly gets you a job.
Get involved with what interests you even if it’s not directly related to public relations. Life isn’t just a big checklist. There are many opportunities that add to the richness of your life and to the richness of you as a person, and all of these aspects tie into becoming a better public relations professional. Students tend to look for certain job experience on their resume without looking at the bigger picture. Stay curious and interested, you’ll be surprised at what opportunities lay in front of you.
Q: Could you give me an example of these life experiences that have helped you in public relations?
A: Part of my core values is to be connected and involved in the community. My personal commitment is to the community not to public relations. I am very involved with Rotary International, and I am on the board of directors of United Way of Lane County. I make conscious commitment to spend time with organizations that relate to my core values. As an adult, I knew what I was giving up in order to do that and as a young professional these choices are harder.
But as a young professional, you need to keep yourself aware of your core values, it could be a number of things, like family commitment. For me, it was about figuring our how my time is best spent and this had to do with my core values. It’s about finding a fit with your personal values and where you spend your time.
Post by Kaitlyn Chock, PRSSA member and project manager for the 2012-2013 school year. You can contact Kaitlyn through our blog editor: firstname.lastname@example.org!