Public relations is a rewarding career choice, and is constantly changing. Christie Denniston, my communication professor and the director of marketing and public relations for the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities at Weber State University, agreed to talk with me about her background and experiences.
“I always knew I wanted to practice public relations because I have a deep passion for helping connect people with each other,” said Denniston. “The study of public relations really lends itself to collaborating and storytelling, and as a young child I used to love stories. The reason I loved stories was because it had a beginning, middle and end. I think public relations is very much the same way.”
Denniston attributes her career of professional storytelling to her education and involvement at Drake University, a top five journalism school. While there, she was involved in Drake’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), internships, a class centered on campaigns, extracurricular activities as a student athlete, university college senator and active membership in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
She feels her experiences during college prepared her for a taste of the real world. She recommended three main skills a student should develop before attempting to enter the field.
“I think being anything other than yourself is a mistake to your future colleagues,” Denniston said. “Also, being adaptable. I think sometimes people get so married to an idea, that idea becomes part of who they are. If you criticize their idea, they feel like you are criticizing them personally. The last skill I suggest is that you can always improve.” Denniston remarked, “If I am not aiming to become better at my job or in my career, every single day, then I am going a disservice to myself and my employer?”
“You are not going to be an expert at everything and you are not going to be good at everything,” said Denniston. ”Finding out what it is that you are good at, and leveraging that and playing to your strengths is what is most important.”
Denniston also finds passion in her career through learning from the students she has taught throughout her 16 years of teaching. “Imparting what knowledge I have on them is rewarding. Being able to have students like yourself succeed, is truly why I transitioned to academia full-time,” said Denniston. “I’m in it for the students and the ability to impart change in them, both personally and professionally.”
Denniston can assist students looking for internships through her connections with WSU, her public relations firm and involvement in PRSA. She looks for students who are strong writers, have a willingness to learn and take on projects and are professional.
“It’s not about you, don’t go into public relations with your own agenda,” Denniston said, reflecting on the primary piece of advice she would give to a student about to consider a career in public relations. “Do it because you want to impart change.”
By Brianna Drandakis