Introduction to Public Relations: Notes and Cases Related to Chapters 2 & 3


Why PR? The skills you need to succeed (from the Public Relations Society of America):

The importance of your resume (from the Public Relations Society of America):

Careers in public relations (from the Public Relations Student Society of America):

Fred Cook, the CEO of Golin Harris, speaking about professional success in public relations: — Key takeaways:

  1. Expose yourself. Try something different. Read something different when standing in front of the magazine rack. These are “doors to new worlds…where people are different than you.” Apply to movies, restaurants, religion, etc.
  2.  Hit the road. Hitting the road helps you to compete and helps you understand the challenges companies face. (Get a passport. Leave the country. If you can’t do that, leave your state or city. Take a gap year (skip a year and learn about the world); study abroad. Learn another language.)
  3. Talk with the senior executives (when you are interning). Ask them a smart question. Take them out for coffee.
  4. Volunteer for things in the office.
  5. Answer your emails.
  6. You need an entourage and a board of directors for your image and your career. Hire a stylist. Find someone to help with your resume. Use your weak ties in your job search.
  7. Work for tips. Customer service is at the heart of every business. So, your hospitality jobs count toward your career. Watch and remember the Starbucks story in the video. Make the tips and lessons learned work for you.
  8. Get as many internships as you can.
  9. Start your own business. Do a lean startup.

Note: Golin Harris has internships available.


  1. Look at the characteristics of most PR practitioners and the skills they possess. Devise a matrix that helps you understand how the characteristics relate to the skills.
  2. Let’s say you are a strategic thinker. How would you chart your PR career beginning with today? List the steps you would take, and assign deadlines to the things you need to accomplish before graduation.

Case Activity #1:

You have just completed a year as an administrative assistant to the executive director of a small, local nonprofit that assists battered women and children. You worked there two summers as the volunteer PR director, as well. You really want to get into public relations and intend to apply for an entry-level position at a small public relations agency. The online ad states, “one year of professional experience required.” Are you eligible for this position? Should you reflect your PR director position as “professional” experience? With whom should you talk to determine if you should apply for this position?

Case Activity #2:

Is there a gender gap in public relations? Why does the field attract more women than men? How does each gender perceive careers in public relations? Focus groups with majors at three universities provided some themes:

The “people skills” stereotype holds for both genders but more so for women.

  • Women are more likely to define public relations as “party planning” and “having fun” primarily as an influence of how television and film portray females in public relations.
  • Men are more attracted to the strategy and management side of public relations.
  • Both genders expect to be in management positions, but men are more likely to pursue corporate settings.
  • Both genders perceive certain female stereotypes as being strengths in the profession.
  • Both genders like the variety of the profession. There’s always something new.
  • Both genders like the versatility of the educational experience. You can do a lot of different things with the degree.

Working in groups of 5 to 10 students, conduct your own discussion of these themes. Does the group agree or disagree with them and in what way? In the group’s view, why are there so few men studying public relations or, to put it another way, why does the field attract so many women?