By Clarence Warren
There are few classes as valuable at West Texas A&M University as the classes that allow students to be a part of 1910 PR, the student-run public relations firm of the university. As I have found in two semesters as a student public relations professional, the skills and experiences offered in this course are immensely valuable for students looking for hands-on experience in the communication field.
I first joined 1910 PR in the spring of 2021, which was my final semester of my undergraduate studies. I hardly knew anyone in the class and was slightly nervous about working with a group of strangers, some of whom already had experience in the firm. As I quickly found out, however, there were very few people who viewed the work of 1910 PR as an “I” project. Rather, the staff of 1910 PR, consisting of both graduate and undergraduate students, viewed the work of the firm as team projects, looking for opportunities to collaborate at every step. I loved the environment of the first semester, with a relatively large staff, we jumped in each week to take care of the business of the firm and to complete the projects that our clients desired.
Early into my first semester, the executive team of 1910 PR announced they were looking for assistant directors, and I quickly applied. As a first-time student staff member in 1910, I did not expect to receive one of the positions, but I was selected to serve as one of the firm’s assistant directors. Getting named to that position and receiving the message from then-director Allison Wallace informing me of my appointment is one of my proudest moments of my time at WTAMU. I thoroughly enjoyed taking on that position and working with the leadership of the firm to keep 1910 PR running smoothly.
When I graduated with my undergraduate degree in May 2021, I enrolled in the graduate program in the Department of Communication at WTAMU. I signed up for two classes for my first semester – an introduction to graduate studies course and a non-profit experience course that once again gave me the opportunity to be a part of 1910 PR.
This semester, I was selected to serve as executive director for the firm, leading a smaller staff this year as we work with a group of important and respected clients. Having a smaller staff this semester has been exciting, as we have fewer people to take on tasks, it has allowed all of us to better sharpen our skills in a variety of fields necessary to be successful in the public relations field.
While this is likely my final semester in 1910 PR, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the firm and have learned a lot about what it means to be a public relations professional and a collaborator, even with staff members who I have never met or those from a variety of experience levels. Thinking about the things I have learned, I have a few tips I would like to offer for the future student professionals of 1910 PR.
● Be Prepared to Work in Teams
One of the best things about 1910 PR is the fact that the staff members of the firm get to work together. While much of the college experience, especially during virtual learning amid the pandemic, has been based around sole projects, 1910 PR allows students the opportunity to work in teams. Learning team skills is incredibly important for becoming prepared for the professional media environment, so take every opportunity to work in a team as a gift that you can offer to the professional you want to be in the future. Your future professional self will thank you.
● Jump In for Every Opportunity
I once read a book where the author detailed the secret to his personal and professional development. His secret was to always take on every task with an attitude of “how hard can it be?” Now, obviously, this will not work in every circumstance, but especially in a program like 1910 PR, taking on the attitude as I described above has been one of the best things I have ever done for success in any course. I have taken every opportunity possible to learn new skills in this course, even when I have been totally unfamiliar with how the skills worked. For example, my graphic design skills were what I might call less than stellar when I first joined 1910 PR. I have taken every opportunity, however, to refine my graphic design skills in 1910 PR, however, and have always looked for and sought constructive criticism when it comes to graphic design to get better. This is one of the best things about 1910 PR. There is an opportunity for personal growth and skill refinement for nearly every communication skill in this program, from writing to graphic design. 1910 PR allows students to get first-hand experience in developing and refining the skills needed to be successful PR professionals. As I have found out through the firm, the best way to develop these skills is to jump into every opportunity with a mindset of working to get better. After all, how hard can it be?
● Seek Criticism and Guidance
1910 PR is an incredibly supportive environment of both students and faculty who want to see the staff members succeed. At the same time, those who truly understand the work of the firm understand that in order to be our best, we must always look to see where we can improve. I have found 1910 PR to be a great environment for learning how to get better by listening to feedback and seeking guidance on how to do my work better. The staff members of 1910 PR have a great opportunity to refine their media skills by seeking feedback and working to become better in whatever aspects they might need.
● Look for Ways to Become More Involved
One of the best things I did when I joined 1910 PR was seeking ways to become more involved with the firm, whether as an assistant director in my first semester or as executive director this semester. There are opportunities for nearly every student in 1910 PR to become more involved, whether as a member of firm leadership or as an account manager. Seeking out ways to become more involved allows students a better opportunity to take ownership over their work and to be proud of the great things our firm accomplishes for our clients.
As you can probably tell, I love 1910 PR and everything about our firm. I hope that if you are considering joining 1910 PR, that you take the leap and get involved. And if you are already a member of 1910 PR, I hope you consider my tips and gain as much knowledge and experience from this organization as possible. In my opinion, there is no organization on campus quite like 1910 PR and that makes everything our firm does that much more special.