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Sean McGowan

February 28, 2015


COMMS 485

Reflection Paper
What I learned in the program
This section could go on and on forever. First and foremost, I learned that honesty
is always the answer, especially in public relations. You should never try to hide anything
but should be transparent as an organization. I see the value and purpose of public
relations in any organization and cant imagine trying to succeed without anyone doing
PR. I hear about companies that cut their PR teamsthat just tells me they werent doing
an effective job or providing value like PR professionals should. As PR pros, we are in
charge of doing something that no other department, not even marketing, can do. Our
efforts determine, for the most part, how our organizations and executives are viewed,
accepted, and respectedor the opposite. Not only does PR maintain a good public
image by getting the name of the organization out there by shedding good light on it, but
its PR that gets lots of things done, keeps an organization together and unites team
members across departments. We are the ones putting out fires when they ignite. Without
good PR, no company can hope to grow and is always in jeopardy or danger in time of
crisis. The program improved my writing skills and condensed my style. It taught me
persuasion and credibility. It showed me the importance of being well-rounded in my
skills and talents, to not only settle for certain abilities but to seek competitive advantage
and constantly build my repertoire of assets. The matrix is one of the best things Ive ever
learned as well. With that, there are so many things PR professionals can do. In my final
semester or two in the program, I learned that public relations encompasses so many

things as an industry, and that I shouldnt think of it as a limiting template, but must take
everything I know and think creatively outside the box.

How the program prepared me for career/life


The program instilled so many skills in me that will be such a huge part of my
career, work life and personal life as well. I learned the importance of having welldeveloped relationships, both in the profession and in a networking sense. You never
know when youll need to use a relationship, for work or for personal opportunities.
Something that will really assist in PR and in almost everything Ill do is the ability to tell
a story. Thats what PR is all about. How youll tell your publics the story they need to
know, the value of stories as a main influence, the stories that youll tell your superiors
when reporting job performance and success and so much moreall real situations Im
sure to rely on the art of story-telling. The program taught me professionalism,
accountability, respect, courtesy, timeliness, responsibility and diligent work ethic. It
taught me to continue to learn and be knowledgeable in all things. The matrix thinking
style is a logical process that I can use with any problem or opportunity I have. Ive
already used it to think so many things through, analyzing the situation and coming up
with a plan. Also, I know the importance of measuring results and evaluation.

How I can improve my learning


While Ive learned so much this last year or two, I recognize that I must continue
to grow and progress with my skills and abilities in communications and PR. The
industry and world will constantly be changing. Social media has completely redefined
the way communications is handled and allowed more engagement between brands and
their publics. Further advancements in the future will do the same. I must not only stay up

to date on things like that, but always be in the know with world conditions and vital
knowledge of important or influential factors. Being well versed in the ways of
everything in the world is something required of PR and communications professionals.
We must know how to influence everyone and understand how the world works the way
it does. This will be required of us if we hope to make a difference.

Suggestions for the program


Id love to add my two cents to make this program better in the future. My first bit
of advice would be to not waste valuable time with certain tactic creation in 421. Making
things like posters and flyers is a good skill to have, but thats what creative departments
are for. I would feel so much more prepared if instead we had spent that precious time
practicing our pitching, writing releases, managing crises situations, etc. I felt there was
focus on the wrong things some of the time, which took away from what Im doing in my
internships. It seems like most of what we were taught was crisis PR, and this has left me
underprepared to do basic things like pitching, event management and social media
engagement in my real-world responsibilities. There is so much more to PR than just
handling crises. I would also recommend some type of synchronization between
instructors. Im sure this is something the faculty is aware of, but students have a problem
(and often argue) over what is the right way to do things. I recognize that its difficult
to collaborate and that there is benefit from being taught things a few different ways, but
it was tough to have teachers that stressed different things and taught things differently.
Finally, I feel it would be a big benefit for classes within the program to work more
directly with campus entities. It would be awesome (and probably easier) to better the
institution we attend and care so much about.