Looking Back and Forward

Looking back on where I was when I wrote my first blog, I like to think I have a little bit more a clue at this point about public relations and how it’s literally everywhere. I’m still rather suspicious of the motives behind advertising, but now I understand the purpose of public relations beyond maintaining image to consumers. PR is vast, and is intended to communicate to every possible public involved; employees, investors, consumers, potential audiences, and much, much more. Without being redundant, I’ve learned a lot about the mechanics of PR in addition to how to apply what I’ve learned.

Writing papers at Grand Valley has been generally unchallenging in my experience; I did not have to take Writing 150, but haven’t had a lower essay score than 85%, which only happened once due to a technicality in my resource section. Every paper has been written in APA format with the longest paper being 12 pages with flexibility on length, sources, and structure. This class challenged me in a completely different way than others; the structure of the Planbook assignment deviated from the typical research paper. The slightly ambiguous descriptions of the assignments made me actually have to think about the paper beyond its subject matter.

The first day of class I was slightly overwhelmed; no matter how you describe it, 50-70 pages is a lot to write in one semester for one class. Immediately I was challenged more than I had been yet in college. In spite of the heavy workload, I was ready to take on something new. The learning curve levels off after every class has the exact same rubric and requirements. Plus, the fact that we were actually creating something that could be used in real life and possibly would be used by a client provided even more incentive to learn as much as I could and write as best as I could.

The process of writing the planbook wasn’t nearly as scary as I had anticipated, but still provided new challenges. There was a lot of guesswork involved in structuring it, lots and lots of rewriting and revising, and actually coming up with ideas on my own. Traditionally, papers I had written before are completely devoid of my own personal thoughts and perspectives; objectivity and facts are valued more than creating new concepts, understandable when writing a scientific or historical paper. Of course research and facts are a crucial part of a public relations project, but for once, they were there to support my own ideas and plans, not for the entire contents of the paper.

I realize now that self-motivation as a skill in the classroom is more valued than the ability to follow orders. Figuring things out myself and not sending panicked emails to professors because I wasn’t 100% sure on what was asked for taught me that I am more than capable of achieving the quality of work that is required without someone holding my hand. The workplace will no doubt be an intensified version of this sort of challenge. I don’t want my first job to go poorly because I’m terrified to try to independently solve my problems. I think that my ability to work by myself was challenged the most in this class than ever before, and I’m a little less afraid of what is expected of me when I do get a “real” job.

Obviously, I’ve learned a lot about PR this semester, and more importantly, how to use and apply it this semester. Course work has gotten rather redundant for me after only two years at Grand Valley, and it’s been enormously refreshing to tackle something new. I’ve gotten an idea of PR history, careers, diversity, and much more. I even self-taught Excel to myself, something I’d never had to do for another class. The bottom line is that I’m glad that public relations is required for my Health Comm major, because I’m sure that no matter where I end up, what I’ve learned here will undoubtedly help me to succeed.

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