Category Archives: Guest Blog

The Next Step for Communications Pros

To go back to school or to not go back to school: that is the question.

And this is the very question Jason blogged about recently — one that almost every working professional grapples with at one time or another. Especially in the communications field, if you’re already gainfully employed, you wonder how anything learned in a classroom could possibly trump real-world experience.

7ladderAnd then there’s the prospect of giving up said job to go back to school for two years, or, better yet, having to relocate to chase a master’s degree from your dream school on the other side of the country. Online education, however, has been a complete game-changer in terms of flexibility, and we’ve seen the quality of the experience elevated to meet — and in some ways exceed — the on-campus one.

I’m totally biased on this front because I work on behalf of an online program. Newhouse School recently announced a new Master of Science in Communications delivered online: Communications@Syracuse. Specializations include public relations, journalism innovation and advertising, taught in live classes by Newhouse faculty. But this post isn’t about me.

Looking Ahead

It’s a great time to be in this field — employment of PR specialists is projected to grow 12 percent through 2022 (from 2012).

And let’s face it: communications and public relations are constantly evolving. Tactics that worked for PR pros even five years ago may seem antiquated today. Attention spans are short and competition for real estate on the web and in print is more intense than ever. Creative storytelling and unique content is paramount to separating your client from its counterparts.

“It’ll be back to the future for PR in 2015,” says Ellen Ryan Mardiks, vice chairman, Golin. “As the PR business grows and expands its remit, we’ll keep doing more, better. Clients will turn to us at an even greater pace for compelling content delivered across all forms of media.”

As a modern-day professional, you want to remain grounded in the fundamentals, while also staying up-to-date with new strategies and tools. To stay competitive, in some cases, advancing your degree, online or otherwise, is the next logical step to help hone your skills and position yourself as a leader who gets results for clients. But, as Jason wrote, you have to ask yourself if continuing your education will be worth the inevitable sacrifices you’ll have to make. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, nor should it be made based on what anyone else thinks — “do it for you.” Other things to consider:

  • Accreditation: Is the institution accredited? This is something employers care about and, if it’s not, could hinder your chances to advance.
  • Credit-transfer policies: Make sure the previous credits you’ve earned and the work experiences you have are taken into consideration.
  • Faculty and student support: Are your professors invested in your success? Will you have access to the resources you need?

Bottom line: There are pros and cons of on-campus versus online — both offer a unique set of challenges. The key is to prioritize what’s important to you (staying put versus relocating, etc.) and commit to the decision 100%. Success in today’s public relations environment will require innovation, adaptability and greater accountability — it’s up to you how you get there.

Erica MossErica Moss is the community manager for Communications@Syracuse, a masters in communications online program, offered from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. In her free time, she enjoys all things pop culture and connecting with people on Twitter @ericajmoss.

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Guest Post: Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy

[Jas’ note: I’m glad to have my friend Ben Butler provide a guest post on a very important topic]

The company handbooks given to new employees nowadays seem to be getting thicker and thicker. Unfortunately, it seems that one potentially brand-crippling area is neglected—social media.

Here’s why your company needs to add a social media policy to its employee handbook:

It Clarifies Expectations

Your company may not be on social media, but I can almost guarantee that your employees are. You should never assume that your employees will represent themselves or your company properly. In fact, it often seems that some people forget the standard rules of engagement when they’re online.

Establishing a social media policy puts all of your expectations in one, formalized place. This will help you explain what behaviors are discouraged and even what could get someone fired.

Some of the topics you may want to cover include: best practices for discussing the company, what company topics are social-policyrestricted (confidentiality concerns), venting about customers, racist comments or posting inappropriate photos.

It Helps You in Times of Crisis

Remember Justine Sacco?

The former director of corporate communications for IAC Tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a plane. Not only did her Tweet created a personal crisis for Sacco, but it suddenly created one for IAC as well. Sacco’s rank in the company immediately attached them to the chaos.

Because they knew how to handle employee conduct in the digital realm, they were able to quickly and properly react by denouncing her comments and publicly firing her before she even landed in Africa.

It Can Enhance Your Company’s Brand

It’s difficult to control exactly how and when your employees talk about your company, but it’s wise to add a best practices section to your social media policy.

Sometimes employees want to share the news, but are unsure how to do so. Be sure to provide examples of how employees can advance your company’s brand on social media. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to include stories like Sacco’s so that employees know what happens when social media is used incorrectly.

How has your company used a social media policy?

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Ben Butler is the founder and president of Top Hat IMC, an integrated marketing communications firm in Wexford and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Crisis Preparedness: Will you be ready?

[Jas’ note: I’m happy to welcome Samantha Dickson to the blog with a timely guest post.]

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A quick glance at the headlines of any newspaper will tell a company that they should always expect the unexpected. Yet still, companies fail to realize the importance of preparation. I’m referring specifically to crisis management.

As PR professionals, we recognize our role within a company. We also see the value of our position when we are prepared for a crisis before it even strikes. So what happens when this forward thinking isn’t present? Negative brand reputation, drops in stock price, and loss of investor trust, just to name a few.

With such negative impacts on a company, it’s hard to imagine that some CEOs will still assume “Oh, that will never happen.” Sadly, it can, it will and when it does, you better be prepared. This is where the public relations role, and corporate communication position is of extreme value within a company.

Outline company threats.

In order to be prepared, a company needs to begin to analyze potential areas where a threat could arise. It is extremely important to understand your industry and what could be a problem for your company or client.

Crisis Planning.

Taking the threats that you’ve outlined above, the next stage would be to strategically plan how to deal with the crisis. This might include identifying your stakeholders, potential solutions, and how to work on brand recovery once the peak of the crisis is over.

Develop pre-crisis communication material.

It is imperative to have audience messages and material ready to be disseminated. If you can identify a large threat that will impact your company or client, develop some material that can be tweaked should the crisis occur. It is better to have something prepared than nothing at all. This might be the shell of a press release, a prepared tweet if it’s social media related, or a letter from the CEO. If you have this material in advance, you’re able to act more quickly in the moment of the crisis.

The brands that are able to recover from a crisis are the ones that have a plan in place. The key takeaway is to do your research. If a crisis does occur, take the time to do a post-analysis on implementation and effectiveness. It is important to see what worked, what didn’t and ways to improve in the future.

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Samantha Dickson recently graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, ON with a B.A. in Political Science. She is currently a graduate student at New York University in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. In her spare time, Samantha writes for her blog One Heel Ahead, provides freelance communication services and loves to travel.

Guest Post: A Mentor That’s a “Grand Slam”

[Jas’ note: I first met Corinthea Harris via Twitter and noticed she was at Rowan University. We then chatted at last October’s PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia, Pa. It turned out we had something in common (aside from being from South Jersey): A great mentor.]

After a whirlwind year – having three internships, trying my hand at being an RA, resigning from the RA position to take a career opportunity, realizing I graduate in May and so much more – and when I say what I’ve accomplished out loud, I sometimes ask myself how someone so tiny could handle such a large work load? How did I possibly handle everything on my plate at one time?

The answer: my grand-slam mentor.

mentorEnter Larry Litwin, APR, Fellow PRSA. Litwin acted as a teacher and mentor, won various public relations (PR) counselor and broadcast journalist awards, owned and operated Hello, Sports Fans!, umpired numerous baseball games and – most importantly – acted as a life coach to me and many other students and professionals.

I say grand-slam mentor and life coach because Litwin constantly went above and beyond. To prove it, I developed the following list of ways he helped me and others:

1. Available 24-7, like a true PR pro. No matter the task, Litwin had an ever-revolving door and inbox. He made time for his students in his office and answered emails even when he really didn’t have two seconds to spare.

2. Listened. Until Litwin, I hadn’t met a person who actually actively listened. He didn’t drop the conversation after you said what you had to say. Instead, he asked questions to figure out the next appropriate step. (And he had this ability to make you feel as though you were a top priority.)

3. Researched. Once he figured out what you wanted or needed, he would take you through a force-field analysis to ensure you made the best possible decision.

5. Stayed on top, if not ahead, of the industrySpeaking of research, Litwin kept up with the latest trends and best practices in the ever-changing strategic communication industry.

6. Taught real-world lessons. Litwin’s career accomplishments helped him teach real-world lessons in the class room and in advisement sessions. And he shared any new industry information he learned instantly. (Also, he wrote a book that acts as a go-to resource for many strategic communication professionals.)

7. Advanced students’ careersLitwin cared more about others than he did about himself. He constantly put others first and did whatever he had to do. With this mentality, you could put money on the fact that he had plenty of connections to various public relations professionals – which he selflessly shared with students to advance their careers.

Seven may not seem like enough reasons to proclaim someone’s record-breaking personality, but I can’t simply put into words the countless things Litwin did for me and other students – leaving a lasting impression.

And since Litwin advocated for baseball and sports, I figured my “grand-slam mentor” metaphor remained appropriate.

He definitely helped me navigate the bases of my college career, pre-professional career and sometimes my personal life. He truly umpired my life and helped me build my personal brand, so that I would have the confidence in myself to one day hit a home run on my own.

I will never have enough at-bat opportunities (words) to possibly hit enough home runs (thank yous) to repay him for everything he taught me. I can only hope other people have a chance to score a mentor like Litwin.

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Corinthea Harris is senior at Rowan University. She will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in public relations and advertising. Currently, she is the Global Communications Intern at Campbell Soup Company. 

5 Tips for Making Social Media Work Together to Boost Your Reach

(Jas’ note: I’m glad to welcome back Alicia Lawrence with another great guest post.)

If you’re like most business owners, you probably want to use social media to expand your marketing efforts and reach new customers. After all, social media is a powerful, free tool — you can use it to access countless new contacts. Here are several tips for having social media work together to expand your influence and reach new customers.

1. Make Social Media Complementary

According to a survey done by Accenture this holiday season, over 65% of customers preview products online before looking for them in stores. This makes it crucial that your online presence accurately reflects how you and your products are in person. In addition, 63% of people also plan to do the opposite — check out products in-store and then shop online. That means it’s important for the transition between your actual store and social media presence to be as seamless as possible. To do so, focus on a few channels and make sure you’re always delivering content that is entertaining and useful to your audience. Remember: your social media efforts should complement your brick-and-mortar business — if the two work together you’ll almost certainly attract customers.

2. Have a Blog

boosting reachOne of the best ways to gain customers’ attention and trust is to have a business blog. Now more than ever users are accessing news, information and articles online. They highly value content, especially if it comes in the form of a well-written blog post. If you regularly post original, engaging content you’ll very likely attract followers. You can write about a number of things — for example, if you’re a software company, you can write about tips for buying a new computer. The more you can tie your business in with information users want to hear, the better. Remember: consumers want a relationship. The more you share with them the more likely they’ll be to buy your products in return.

3. Work Together, But Be Different

When managing multiple social accounts, it’s easy to fall into posting the same content on each one. Instead, get to know the users on each different channel and learn what they would want to see on your social feed. This might mean sharing entertainment Facebook, news and deals on Twitter, and product reviews and photos on Pinterest. If you can pin down what your followers are looking for on each channel you have better chance of boosting your reach to others who are looking for the same info. The brand Havahart does a great job at this on their Facebook and Pinterest.

Beyond that though, some sites allow you to tailor content to different contacts. On LinkedIn, for example, you can sort connections by category and send a private message to everyone in that category. Do a little research, and figure out how to tailor your posts on various sites and platforms. This way you may be able control which followers receive regular blasts and updates, and which receive messages only occasionally. At the very least, you know how many contacts you have in each category, which is very useful when you’re developing a new campaign. It can also allow you to see if one social media platform is more successful, and if so, you should ask yourself how you can emulate this success on your other sites.

4. Hashtag It

Even though you’ll be sharing different content tailored for each social channel, that doesn’t mean they should never connect. Hashtags are a great way to integrate your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and even YouTube videos! Just in 2013, hashtags on the YouTube video Dance Pony Dance helped it go viral on both Facebook and Twitter.

5. Know Your Brand Mavens
Brand mavens are individuals that are highly influential to your target audience. This isn’t just celebrities, they can also be those just with a large following or with a blog that has high traffic. Make sure you identify your brand mavens on each social channel so you know who to outreach to when you have a message you think their fans should hear.

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Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land and CJ Pony Parts. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks.

Guest Post: 5 Ways to Build Your Contact List

Jas’ note: I’m happy to welcome today’s guest blogger, Alicia Lawrence. She’s a talented content coordinator and relationship builder. This post is sure to be one you’ll want to read through.

When a PR pro is asked what the most important part about their job is, any one of them would tell you one word: connections. Without the right contacts and connections in this industry, you simply won’t make it, it’s the honest truth. For emerging PR stars or even those who have been around awhile and are just switching to a different sector of PR, this thought can be very stressful and overwhelming. Just how am I supposed to make those connections? Believe it or not, with the technology and social media readily available to PR pros, it’s a lot easier to make those connections needed to make your client happy. Let’s go over some surefire, simple ways to build your contact list in your spare moments at work.

1. Social Media: Social media is the best way to find contacts and journalists in your area of PR. First of all, social media now makes it easier than ever to find the perfect person to send your pitch to. You can know their likes, dislikes, what they’ve written about in the past, just by seeing their past tweets! The best way to start a search for the contacts you’re looking for is to use a tool that enhances the social media experience. Some great ones are followerwonk, twellow and even Pinterest and Google+ search are great options to find who you’re looking for.

Once you’ve created a list of the bloggers, journalists and influencers you’d like to make your contacts, start interacting with them! Tweet them questions about or even compliments on their past pieces. Journalists love to talk about their work, and they’ll appreciate the effort you’re making in trying to get to know them instead of just pitching blindly. This can help you build a relationship and in the future, that relationship might be exactly what you need to land the perfect pitch.

2. Search Parameters: If you’re looking for a type of blog or journalist, sometimes the easiest thing and first step to do is simply “Google them”! By using some quick little tips through Google coding, you can make your search a lot easier. Did you know that if you put “quotes” around your search parameters, your results will only include those words? This can be a super helpful way of vetting your Google search before it even begins.

3. Blog Rolls: If you’re looking for a genre of blogs, blog rolls can come in handy. They’re basically lists comprised of all the blogs in a category. For example, say you’re looking to pitch Healthy Living blogs but aren’t sure where to start. This list can help you see how many blogs are available in the category and from there, you can narrow your pitch downs to the one who are best suited for your client.

4. Blogger LinkUp Newsletter: This is a very unique tool. This virtual newsletter component allows bloggers and PR pros alike to connect over a common network. It can help you reach a new audience and form relationships with the bloggers you’d like to pitch in a whole new way. It’s especially great if you’re really at a loss for where to start as there’s a lot of information available on the newsletter’s page as well.

5. Backlinks through Open Site Explorer: Like any good PR pro, you always need to be willing to do your research. Open Site Explorer allows you to take any link and see where it ends up. This can help you find out exactly where your competitors are posting and what the article was about. Once you have the background, you’re pitch can become a lot more solid to that website. Information is always key when pitching.

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Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land and CJ Pony Parts. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks.

Guest Post: Job Search =Life Search

(Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to have Alex Crispino guest post on the blog today. She’s a fellow Temple Owl and someone I’m proud to call a colleague. She never backed down during her job search challenges and her story is something everyone can learn from.)

As a senior in college, I started my job search early, thinking I would find my dream job right after graduation. Most of my friends did the same. We worked hard during college and felt prepared to enter the real world. But, honestly, nothing prepares you for that.

Both graduating college and job searching bring a wave of emotions. You feel excited to start your life, but you’re also terrified that you will fail.  My job search started in March 2012 and did not end until November 2012 when I landed my first job. Here are the three major lessons I learned, thanks to that process.

  1. Know Yourself: When I started job searching, I was so desperate for any job, that anywhere I applied,  I either wasn’t qualified for or I didn’t like. You must know yourself, what you are passionate about, and the general direction you’d like your life to go in.
  2. Be Flexible: Yes, you can be somewhat picky. But, you must have an open mind, apply to jobs that utilize your skillset and are interesting. I thought I would only have a job in PR. However, my current position has little to do with PR. That doesn’t mean I don’t find it interesting and I use tools from my PR toolkit daily.
  3. See the Bigger Picture: Landing your first job out of college is very important. Of course, your goal should be to find a job you love that supports what you studied in school. But, your life, your existence, should not be defined by this first job. Your career will be filled with jobs, successes, failures and constant changes.  Stay grounded and remember work is just a part of your life.

My job search taught me so much about who I am and what I want out of my life. I learned that you never truly know what you want and that’s okay. Each day with each job, you must work to better yourself. If you don’t continue to challenge yourself and set higher goals, you will become stagnant.

My job search became a soul searching mission. It helped me to align my professional goals with my personal ones as well as showed me my true strengths and weaknesses. Despite unemployment, I am grateful for my post-graduate journey and learned so much during the process.

AlexCrispinoAlex Crispino graduated from Temple University in 2012 and currently works at Pricewaterhouse Coopers as a Learning and Development Consultant. While at Temple, Alex was Director of PR for PRSSA, an Account Executive for PRowl Public Relations and a Resident Assistant. She currently lives in New Jersey, but enjoys working in New York City. You can follow Alex on Twitter, @AlexCharli and her blog, Rockstar in Training.

How Nurses Build Community Online

[Jas’ note: I’m incredibly appreciative to have Erica Moss guest blogging today on a topic that is really piquing my interested lately: Healthcare and social media.]

Of the many things you’re tasked with in the role of community manager, identifying who your target audience is and where they’re spending their time online are two of the most important. And if you’re good at what you do, you spend a whole lot of time listening in the beginning stages, combing the space for influencers, cues about etiquette and important topics that eventually bubble to the surface.

Health care is a particularly fascinating vertical, comprised of individuals who care deeply about what they do and strive to make an impact in their own communities and beyond. Nurses, specifically, are advocates for their profession and appreciate honest, thoughtful dialogue.

And while many nurses and other health care professionals grapple with demanding schedules and the never-ending challenge of work-life balance, they do also use social media to commiserate with, learn from and challenge members of their peer group.

A few examples:

Facebook
With its recent announcement that it hit the one billion users mark, it’s no surprise that Facebook serves as a meeting place for nurses. Some of the more popular pages include the American Nurses Association, Nursing Notes by Johnson & Johnson, Nurse Together and the American Journal of Nursing. Here you’ll find vocal communities of nurses sharing opinions on health care reform, talking about issues like nurse bullying, webinar information and much more. Thought-provoking questions and photos typically elicit the most likes and comments.

Blogs
While being mindful of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an ever-present concern for health care professionals who blog, there is certainly a healthy, thriving community of nurse bloggers who share their experiences with the world. Best known as The Nerdy Nurse, Brittney, a clinical informatics specialist from Georgia, uses her blog to talk about things that are happening in her personal life, share her enthusiasm for the latest technologies, and of course, best practices and observations from her life as a nurse. Nurse Keith has a passion for coaching nurses and helping them achieve work-life balance, and his blog, Digital Doorway, is a great resource for avoiding burnout and other best practices.

These are just two of numerous examples of thought leaders in this space who use blogging to connect with like-minded individuals. Many also have Facebook pages that accompany their sites in order to further nurture engagement within their networks.

#RNchat
Scheduled to take place every Thursday around 9:15 p.m. EST, this Twitter chat is a watercooler for relevant topics and concerns related to nursing. Started by Phil Baumann, it’s billed as the first of its kind for nurses. Those who can’t participate in the live chat are encouraged to follow the hashtag on Twitter. And now, of course, additional niche chats have popped up, such as #APRNchat, #IVchat, #ITnurse and many more. Outside of the chat, if you want a starter list of nurses to follow, check out this top 10 from Nursing License Map, a state-by-state guide to nursing licensure.

Forums
Forum sites like allnurses.com and even Reddit are also gathering spots for nurses seeking advice on career next steps, those trying to compare schools or simply to share a funny nurse-related meme. Fellow nurses chime in with their experiences, or point users toward an outside resource that might be of some assistance. There’s a greater sense of camaraderie in this type of setting, as users typically have to register to participate and a certain level of trust is assigned to a community that, presumably, consists solely of your peers.

For a comprehensive nurse’s guide to the use of social media, check out this white paper from the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing.

I’d certainly love to hear from fellow community managers and social media pros in this particular vertical. Have you had the same experiences? What’s missing from this list?

This post is written by Erica Moss, who is the community manager for the online graduate nursing programs at Georgetown University, offering one of the nation’s leading nurse educator programs. She enjoys blogging, TV, pop culture and tweeting @ericajmoss.

Public Relations and Science: An Odd Combination

(Jas’ note: I’m really happy to introduce you to Ryan Swafford, a PR student who has a background in chemistry and biology. I was immediately intrigued and began chatting with him. I asked Ryan to guest blog on PR and science.)

Public relations workers must have knowledge of a wide range of topics to be effective communicators. In my opinion, science has become one of the subjects we most need to value. So, why is science important to public relations? Well, it influences many aspects of our daily lives, from our health to our technology. An understanding of it allows practitioners to further their credibility with the public and possible clients.

For example, one of the first things that come to mind for me is the inundation from the media about the benefits of antioxidants (partly because I’ve worked in a grocery store). My point though is that PR people who promote those antioxidants and have knowledge of the way they work will seem more trustworthy in their appeals to their target audiences. Public relations workers must have knowledge of a wide range of topics to be effective communicators. In my opinion, science has become one of the subjects we most need to value. So, why is science important to public relations? Well, it influences many aspects of our daily lives, from our health to our technology. An understanding of it allows practitioners to further their credibility with the public and possible clients.

Or, take the recent recall of Jensen Farm’s cantaloupes which were contaminated with L. monocytogenes. It’s the responsibility of PR professionals to distribute fast, accurate information about the outbreak and the signs of illness. However, it’d be a great advantage for the people tasked with press releases to know that while listeriosis is a serious illness that should be treated immediately, it acutely affects the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. This knowledge is not only helpful in delivery of messages, but in targeting specific audiences and preventing consumer frenzies.

Other times, a scientific discovery is so groundbreaking that the science nerd in me has to tell everyone. Did you hear that neutrinos, or subatomic particles, were clocked going faster than the speed of light? If valid, this research throws a wrench into Einstein’s theory of relativity. I won’t pretend to know anything about quantum physics though, so I’ll just stop right there.

Obviously, I love anything science-related, but why did I end up combining it with public relations? As I was growing up, I developed strong desires for both writing and science. In college, I struggled with choosing one of the two. It took three years and advice from friends and family to decide on a career in chemistry. Following graduation, I found a job in a lab doing research.

After a while, I started to feel trapped and only later began to realize it was because I couldn’t see the impact my work was having on our clients. When I was laid off, I took it as an opportunity to reassess the decisions I had made and find a career I would enjoy, one that involved more interaction with people. It was by sheer luck when researching graduate schools that I ran across Boston University’s science journalism program. Almost immediately, it struck me that there was a unique opportunity to blend my background in science with training in journalism, a desire that never faded. As I thought more deeply, I felt it simply wasn’t enough to write for the public to explain scientific concepts and research. Rather, I believe it’s just as important to spread and promote the messages of organizations like the American Cancer Society and Jane Goodall Institute to help them achieve their goals. This conviction led me to choose a life in public relations. So far, I’ve enjoyed every minute.

Ryan Swafford is a senior at Missouri Western State University. He will graduate in December 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. Contact Ryan on Twitter via @Ryan_Swafford or on LinkedIn.

Is A Journalism Degree Worthless?

(Jas’ note: I’m thrilled to welcome back Jessica Malnik to the blog for a guest post.)

*A bit of a disclaimer: I left the journalism rollercoaster world for the adventures of marketing and PR a year ago. I haven’t looked back since. That being said, there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t apply something I learned while at the University of Missouri Journalism School.

Is a journalism degree worthless? I’ve heard this question come up quite a bit over the last couple of months. As more and more traditional media outlets crumble or suffer massive rounds of layoffs, the skeptics come out and immediately question any college student or recent grad- like myself- who majored or is majoring in journalism. I think that’s a real shame.

It’s awful that countless numbers of high school and college students these days are being detracted and sidelined from pursuing a major in journalism. I firmly believe that a journalism degree is just as valuable today, if not more so, than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Here’s three reasons why.

1. The core journalism skills translate well for a lot of careers.

At the very core of journalism, it’s about communicating effectively. To be successful, you have to be articulate and a good writer. Both are very valuable skills at the core of dozens of jobs- from public relations and marketing to engineering and medicine.

Factor in that most journalism students today have at least a basic grasp of multimedia skills, and you have the core foundation to be successful at almost any pursuit.

2. It’s not what you major in that matters, it’s how you choose to use it.

This goes for everything from journalism majors to sociology and classics majors. So many people box themselves inside the parameters of what they decided to major in at college. When in reality, your major is just the foundation for your career. It’s how you choose to apply the core skills that you learned that really matters.

To sum it up, there’s no bad majors. Don’t be afraid to use your journalism degree- or whatever you majored in- in a different way. A journalism student doesn’t have to be a journalist. You can end up being a marketer, PR pro, engineer, lawyer, etc. The sky’s the limit.

3. Journalism breeds curiosity and solid listening skills.

Most people, who major in journalism, have one thing in common. They are all curious about the world around them. They seek out ways to ask questions and listen to the people around them to understand issues and convey messages to a larger audience.

The ability to ask tough questions as well as listen for subtle nuances and clues  is an art form. It’s a skill that can take you far in whatever career path that you choose.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist, videographer and avid blogger.  Visit her blog for social media, technology, public relations and marketing ramblings.