August 18, 2011

Teaching Strategy or Tactics

This morning I took my PR and Promotions class to visit a PR agency located in San Francisco's financial district. A VP at the firm was generous enough to give us an hour of her time. In that meeting I had a realization - I am teaching my students a great deal of strategic thinking but am I getting down into the tactics?

When we asked the VP how she selects entry level people she told us that she administers a test. The candidate is asked to interpret an article, write up a short summary for the client, identify key content, and then frame it in a way that is truthful and insightful. Of course, their ability to be successful with this assignment is just one of the factors she considers. When asked if she is interested in their ability to think strategically she said that that would certainly help the candidate move ahead in the company, but that is not one of her hiring considerations.

Now I am rethinking my curriculum to include more skill development around tactic identification and completion. Could my students complete her test? Honestly, week six into an eleven week course and I would say no, they couldn't. Next quarter I am going to build in more writing and research activities, while alluding to strategy as opposed to the other way around.