1. Most PR people don't write well. This includes old flacks who've been around since Adam announced his new fig leaf attire. You will leapfrog ahead of your peers if you can explain complicated situations or argue positions in writing. Really. Make writing your priority.
2. You don't have exclusive access to this profession. PR people come from everywhere: journalism, law, marketing, psychology, finance, catering, politics or on the advice of their parole officers. Your degree is worth only what you make out of it with your intuitiveness and applied skills. Be aware that public relations is more and more a collection of specialized fields.
3. PR is not the end result of itself. The world is full of publicists and social media tacticians who think the whole point is to pump out materials, get publicity or Tweet Tweets. It isn't. If what you're doing isn't making a difference — selling product, improving opinion, increasing share price, building support, winning the vote, etc. — then you're just adding to the clutter. Your career will have no more meaning than a sticky note. Strive to be relevant.
4. There's too much sleaze in this business. Decide right now that you're not going to be one of those flacks who rationalizes bad behavior, lies to the press, creates fake grassroots organizations or attacks the integrity of people with legitimate issues against your employer or client. It doesn't matter whether you're in corporate, government or marketing. You don't have to sell your soul to be an effective at communications and influence.
5. Detailed grunt work gets you promoted. It's great that PR students study the Tylenol crisis. But most of you will have less dramatic introductions to the profession. You'll spend your day compiling research, stuffing envelopes, proof-reading someone else's material and taking notes. The sooner you prove that you don't make mistakes or let things fall through the cracks, the sooner you'll get thrown into the more interesting deep end. Invest your time in becoming indispensible. Most of your peers won't.
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