Growing with Public Relations

By: Kelsi Camp

When I first came to West Virginia University, I did not have a clue what public relations was. That might sound shocking, considering I am in the major now. When I first started college, I was a forensic science major, probably due to the amount of criminal justice documentaries I was watching when I was in high school.

 I decided to change my major to Strategic Communications with an emphasis in public relations and added a minor in creative writing when I was halfway through my sophomore year. I remember my mom told me this was a major that had a lot to do with writing, and at the time that was what I was most passionate about. So, I decided to go for it.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

When I first researched my new major, I did not understand what the communications process was. I did not know the many layers that go into communications. PRSA describes the many functions that develops public relations as:

When explaining my major to friends and family members, I often find that they do not completely understand what it is. Robert Wynne said, “Very few people can explain what people in public relations really do. If you’re a cop, a construction worker or a cowboy, everybody knows your job function.”

I think people have a hard time understanding public relations because of how much the field of public relations has changed over time. Just a couple decades ago this field was limited in what it could do. Now the field has an entire new side, digital, with endless possibilities. The traditional media is still in use, (for example: traditional media primarily involves print media, television and radio) but it is the digital side of this field that drives my passion for public relations today.

Public relations is not something that can be taught through lectures and exams. Nearly all of my classes have been hands-on. For instance, researching, creating hypothetical campaigns, writing scripts, producing videos, executing interviews and my new-found passion, designing. It has been through this hands-on work that I have developed my passion for content creation. In this field you have creative freedom, yet you put strategy behind your creations. You give a purpose to every element, even down to the font choice.

When I took my first design class during my junior year, I did not know what I was getting into. I had heard of photoshop before, but I thought the most use out of it would be changing the lighting on your soon-to-be Instagram post. In that class I was introduced to my new obsession, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. I remember the first day of that class, our assignment was to look at an icon of an animal and replicate it. I worked on that animal icon for an entire week, and still had some distorted animal when I turned in my assignment.

Throughout that course, I spent hours watching YouTube tutorials and by the end of that semester I had created an entire hypothetical campaign. When the class ended, I found myself still practicing design in my free time. I spent most of my summer creating and practicing on the programs.

Now, thanks to Martin Hall Agency, I have the opportunity to work with real clients. Martin Hall Agency is a class here at West Virginia University that helps students get a better idea of what working in an agency will be like, by providing students the opportunity to work with real clients.  I am creating logos, branding plans, print advertisements and many other design-related content that is going out into the world. I get to build my portfolio with not just conceptual work, but with work that is being provided to a company. I am so excited to continue showcasing my work through this class and building my portfolio to prepare for graduation.

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