What to expect of a service-learning PR course: A review from working with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association and Prism Communications

Throughout my college experience, semesters usually seem to fly by. That was until now. I suspect the reason to be the record number of late night hours these four months have entailed, most of which I spend writing or designing for my public relations (PR) writing class with a service-learning component.

Sounds like a very particular Starbucks order, yes, but how is the class? Well, in short, you will learn about writing, write, present your writing, work with a group and a real client on a PR mini-campaign, blog about the mini-campaign, interact with fellow classmates about each group’s progress and then present your works at the end of the course.

Okay, that was not exactly a short description. But you cannot really cut short the work of the class, or what you get out of it.

As you go through learning the how-to’s of writing assignments and working on a mini-campaign, you will also learn, as I have, that:

  • although you might know all there is to the English grammar, to be effective in PR you will need to be “fluent” in Associated Press (AP), which at times seems like a language of its own;
  • you will always need to research before you write, including looking up the client, the audience, the situation, the goal of the communication and any other factor that can affect how you write;
  • PR writing can be very technical or creative depending on context;
  • media platforms vary in form and function, so you will need to craft a message that can cross platforms and also to adapt it to fit each individual platform;
  • deadlines can be stressful, but they are part of the job;
  • and PR is not simply writing anymore; you will need to know how to use designing programs like InDesign and content-building sites like WordPress and Weebly.

But you can also learn these things from any other PR writing class. What truly sets the service-learning PR experience apart is the hands-on approach it offers. Working with a local nonprofit as the client provides realistic expectations, interaction, professional working environment and feeling of reward towards works completed. The SCVNGR component integrated into the mini-campaigns also adds on to the realistic PR firm experience of the class. The video below recaps such an experience I had with my group, Prism Communications, as we worked with the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail Association this semester:

In short (really this time), a service-learning PR writing class teaches you not only the fundamentals of PR writing, but also the fundamentals of PR in general. So although at times you will just feel like…

omgwriting

… like how PR professionals feel sometimes, according to 99problemsbutapitchaintone.tumblr.com

But if you are up for working as hard as you can to learn as much as you can, consider service-learning options.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @tran_tr for more updates of all we have planned for LNQTA this semester.

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