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Why English Majors Should Consider a Career in Public Relations After College

Lauren Scherr
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Have you ever thought about writers and how they all seem to share characteristics that pull them away from other people?

You know what I’m talking about: the Kerouac wanderlust, the Bukowski cynicism, and the hermit habits of J.D. Salinger.

But what happens if you’re a writer who doesn’t want to become a recluse? What then?

Lauren Scherr found an alternative to the “novelist” life that allows her to write and tell stories while still living in a social atmosphere.

Lauren studied English at Georgetown University and graduated in May 2011.

She knew that she wanted to write “in some capacity” but that she didn’t have the disposition to be a writer.

“It’s too solitary and demanding of self-discipline,” she explains.

So she began to look for a job that would give her a chance to interact with people while still making use of her way with words and love of language.

When she was introduced to Public Relations, it was a quick and easy match. It was an industry that would allow her to bring a story to life while also interacting with other people.

Lauren is now an Account Executive with LaunchSquad.

She is surrounded by coworkers who, like her, do not want to be part of the next generation of brooding authors, but who still have an exceptional love of words that make them “some of the best Cards Against Humanity players” Lauren has ever met.

These wordsmiths work to bring clients’ stories to life through a variety of different techniques and tools.

“Extraordinary things are sprinkled with the more mundane,” Lauren says when I ask her to describe a “typical” day.

At any given moment she could be writing a blog post, meeting with a client, pitching a story to a reporter, brainstorming with her team, or reading up on the newest product that’s “changing the world.”

She may not have realized it at the time, but her English major was preparing her for this position all along.

In school, she was constantly analyzing stories and learning what made them meaningful. Now, she is constantly learning the backstories of her clients and figuring out what makes them interesting and unique.

As we’ve stated in our post, “How to Work in Public Relations: A Quick Guide to the Basics,” in PR, it’s incredibly important to have an understanding of what’s “newsworthy” and one of the hardest parts of the job is pitching a story that is not.

Not only do you have to know what the story is, but how to tell it in the right way.

Lauren gives the example of American Giant, a company that makes what has been called “the world’s greatest hoodie.” But that’s just one part of their brand. There are so many other stories that set it apart from other apparel producers—from their high-quality American manufacturing to their impeccable design process. They don’t want to show just one side of their company.

“It’s a great example of a company elevating their story beyond the product they make.”

When it’s done well, a story that was the result of PR shouldn’t be obvious to the reader. It should capture your interest naturally.

This can be incredibly difficult at times because public relations is such a time-sensitive industry.

“When emergencies arise, you have to act quickly and make decisions under pressure, all while coordinating many different logistical details and juggling multiple moving parts,” explains Lauren.

Though it’s an exhilarating challenge, it can also be pretty stressful.

That’s why it’s essential for anyone interested in working in PR to be hard-working, intellectually curious, a critical thinker, and also bold.

Lauren describes the mindset of a PR professional:

“You have to always be thinking: why does this matter, what more can I learn, what more can I do, and how can I make this big idea a reality.”

What else do students need if they want to break into this profession?

Lauren advises reading and writing as much as possible. She also suggests that you talk to as many people in the industry as you can so that you can “get a sense of how various agencies and internal PR departments differ.”

And trust me, they differ. Just read about how Gergana Stoilova almost dismissed the entire industry because of one misfit internship. It ends up it wasn’t PR that she disliked, but just one company.

Lauren found her fit in public relations. She gets to use her English major skills to identify meaningful stories and bring them to life with the help of a team she loves.

Homework time! Interested in getting a job in PR after college? Take some time to research different companies and use our 7 secrets of networking to meet professionals and set up informational interviews.

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2 Responses to “Why English Majors Should Consider a Career in Public Relations After College”

  1. Guest

    But what if you DON’T want a job working with other people? What if you do have the “writer’s temperament” like reclusive Salinger and would rather work from home and be a complete hermit? Just suck it up and try to shake someone’s hand even though your own hand is shaking?

    Reply
    • Melissa Suzuno

      Hi there, thanks for stopping by. One of the most important parts of the job search is to figure out what matters most to you, and what type of environment would allow you to thrive. If you know that interacting with other people all day is going to make you miserable, then it’s not a good idea to go against your nature and try to force yourself into something you know you’ll hate. There are other writing/editing jobs that don’t require you to be “on” all the time. I have one friend who worked as a freelance editor for years and her only contact with her clients was through email, so PR is definitely not the only option.

      Reply

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