The Role of Personal Planning in Professional Development

Editor's Note: The Future of PR relies heavily on college professors’ willingness to see and understand the changes in the industry and pass that information down to their students. As we’ve said many times before, proving ROI with hard numbers and data is imperative to our industry’s survival. This post is one professor’s view of the challenges of how to convey this in the classroom and her approach to breaking the old-school curriculum mold.

One of my favorite things in life is a new planner. I’ve realized over my years of teaching college students that many of them love a new planner, too. As I walk around before class starts, I see the shiny, colorful covers of students’ planners. I see their personalities, but I see something else. These students realize the importance of personal planning. They mark deadlines, they set goals, they dream about accomplishments and they make lists of all the things they need to do each week (we often joke about how sometimes we put things on the list after we do them for the joy of checking them off).

Sometimes it’s hard to interest public relations students in learning about strategic planning. Some of them chose to study communications because they love the creative process or they enjoy writing or visual design. Getting them excited about writing goals and objectives can be a challenge. Talking about measurement can cause eyes to glaze over.

Helping students see the connection between their own personal planning and the professional development of measurement skills can be a bridge for students to understand the importance of this part of our work.

For example, a student may have a goal of increasing her GPA.

  • What GPA is she starting with? This helps students understand the importance of setting benchmarks in the planning process.

  • How much can she increase her GPA in one semester? This helps students understand the importance of establishing reasonable objectives.

  • Why does she want to increase her GPA? Maybe she wants to increase the likelihood she’ll be admitted to a particular graduate program or secure a scholarship. This helps students understand the importance of relating communication objectives to the organization’s bottom line. Address the “Why?” of strategic planning is important.

Measurement is critical for any individual or organization. Helping students internalize the need for this important part of communication may be as simple as connecting the process to their own personal planning. And those shiny new planners!

Lisa K. Lundy, PhD (@lisalundy), is an Associate Professor, teaching Agricultural Communication and Leadership Development at the University of Florida She's an accredited public relations (APR) professional and has worked in higher education and nonprofit public relations. From 2004 to 2015, she taught public relations at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication. She teaches classes in visual design, social media, public opinion and campaign strategy.


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