Those relaxing summer days spent basking in the hot sun on Grand Haven Beach without a worry in the world are coming to an end, and fall semester is fast approaching. Somehow that tuition/rent money you had saved up for the beginning of the semester has slowly decreased throughout the summer months, and you find yourself in a scramble to make up some of the difference in the last 3 weeks before school starts. Who knows what happened to it… A S’mores Frappuccino here, cute sunglasses there, the mani-pedi with your besties last Tuesday, and that weekend trip up to the cottage with the boys probably wasn’t any help. Either way, you are finding yourself a little short on cash these days, but still want to increase your PR knowledge, nice job! It’s a good thing I decided to write this blog before the beginning of the semester, otherwise you might have been a little lost, my friend! Here are some things you can do to learn new PR skills for FREE!
1) The Wonderful World of Google
I know this seems simple, but Google is your friend. If you look hard enough, anything you desire can be free thanks to Google. Go ahead and type into your browser, “new public relations trends.” My handy-dandy search engine just informed me that there are about 24,500,000 results. Imagine all of the free things you could learn from that! Falling down the rabbit-hole Google-style is one of the best tools to use when educating yourself about public relations. Just challenge yourself to look past the first page, there might be great treasures buried on page 7, you never know!
2) Work for Free
“Wow, that statement doesn’t sound very fun.” I know, I know, but listen, the best thing you could do for yourself is offer your expertise for free. Whether you ask your dream company to host you as a free intern (for no credit so you don’t have to pay for it) or ask them if you can shadow someone on a campaign they are currently working on, you will still be getting your foot in the door. Once you squeeze your way through that sliver of an opening in the company, you can seduce them with your creativity, incredible work ethic, and your awful dad jokes. Your face will be known to the company, so once you finally graduate, you might just be welcomed back with open arms, or they will give you a wonderful reference to a different company.
If you are looking to stay closer to campus because of your busy class/work schedule, or the fact that you don’t have a car and haven’t memorized the bussing route yet, try to contact someone within the GVSU community (or your school’s community). Universities need public relations, right? Having the opportunity to work on your school’s campaigns gives you a leg up and can be a wonderful addition to your professional portfolio.
3) Networking Is Key!
It is all about who you know in the world of PR. And the best way to get to know people is by attending networking events. Grand Valley State University offers plenty of free networking opportunities, whether it is a resume workshop put on by the Advertising Club, or a non-profit organization job fair held in the Grand River room. Whatever the networking opportunity might be, attending the event is as simple as putting on your lucky interview outfit, printing off a bunch of those resumes you finished up last night, and walking into the event.
Make sure to look for events outside of the GVSU campus as well. There are plenty for interesting networking opportunities held in Grand Rapids, like this Drinks and Digital event happening on August 24th on the roof of the UICA building. From these different networking opportunities, you are sure to gain more insight into the crazy world of public relations and maybe pick up some skills here and there.
4) Those Clubs Though
Here is a completely shameless plug to getting involved with PR clubs on campus. Being a student of pretty much the greatest school in the world (totally biased) has its advantages when it comes to the clubs that are offered on campus. Grand Valley offers over 451 student organizations, but I suggest checking out the 2 most important ones:
First, there is PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America, that’s a mouth full. The website says they are “a pre-professional organization preparing students for their future careers in public relations and others in the communications industry through speakers, workshops, community and agency tours.” This is all true, but PRSSA is so much more than that. It is a place to meet other students who are as equally passionate about public relations as you, and who knows, you might make a friend or two that really make you thankful for joining the club in the first place. Keep in mind this club is free-ish. You are able to attend a meeting or two for free just to get a feel for the club at first, but in order to become a member, there is a single semester fee of $25. In my opinion, the experiences definitely pay for themselves!
Second, I suggest checking out GrandPR. You might already know what it is since you’ve gotten this far on the blog, but in case you need a refresher, GrandPR is GVSU’s very own student run public relations firm that works with real clients to fulfil their PR needs at an affordable cost. The students gain real world clientele experience while our clients take advantage of young talent as well as saving a few pennies.
Becoming a member of these two organizations on campus was one of the better decisions I have made so far at GVSU, and maybe it could be for you too. If neither of these clubs sound like your cup of tea, then check out some other ways to get involved with public relations on campus by clicking here.
There are always ways to learn new skills in PR for free, you just have to get creative with it. Hopefully this little snippet of organized word-vomit helped you a little before the beginning of the new semester! Good luck in your classes and have a productive semester!
Kyra O’Dell is a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Elementary Certification. Kyra is an Account Executive for Grand PR, and has received a Superior Award for student excellence in Advertising and Public Relations. She is eager to graduate and show the world her passion for Public Relations and her quirky attitude towards life. In Kyra’s free time you can find her obsessing over dog videos, trying a new recipe in the kitchen, and smiling.