May 20, 2020 msuproductions
Jacob Hildreth

Learning PR Virtually

By Jacob Hildreth

Before COVID-19 forced Montclair State University to move to virtual learning, I was learning the details of public relations through a course called Hawk Communications. The class taught how to communicate with clients. Professor Green made it clear that it was important to be persistent with our clients by always following up with them. People running businesses are busy and won’t always be able to respond. It was up to us to make sure we were doing everything we could to get their attention.

Professor Green told us it was also important we worked as a team. Teamwork in the PR industry is highly important. Solving problems and coming up with solutions is easier when you work together. That also meant we had to check in with our teammates and account lead to let them know what was going on at all times. Teamwork and communication became important tasks, especially when we converted to virtual learning.

Although it was unexpected, we learned a valuable crisis communication lesson from the pandemic and shutdown. Crises come in all different shapes and sizes, but it is all about how you react to them. Taking this class gave me a look in on what happens when something like COVID-19 occurs. I witnessed how companies prepare to change their plans for the future. Winegrowers are a fine example for this, as we were supposed to promote New Jersey’s wineries. We were forced to come up with a new plan and change our messaging to still help the winegrowers during this difficult time.

Crisis communication also taught me that in PR you have to be nimble and have the ability to pivot. Although pandemics aren’t common, you will get thrown curve balls. It is important to be able to adjust swiftly and well.

Going into this class I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the basics of public relations but did not know all of them. I was surprised to realize that public relations is much more than I originally thought. There’s planning events, running social media, coming up with ideas, attending events, and that is just the beginning. It is disappointing that this pandemic forced use to switch the whole class. I was looking forward to pushing my boundaries by attending events and pitching more media ideas.

Although I did not get the full experience of taking Hawk Communications, I still enjoyed the class. I got a great look and understanding into the PR world. Learning all about how to talk to a client, working as a team, and I even got a bonus on crisis communications. I felt as if we made the most of it as much as we could.