The ability to write is the foundation on which all public relations is built. If an aspiring public relations practitioner lacks excellent writing abilties, he or she should find another line of work. The ability to organize blockbuster events or blow up balloons for the big product introduction will only take you so far.

Writing -- the ability to articulate concepts and persuade through words -- is fundamental to providing value through PR.

Unfortunately, a recent survey conducted throughout Texas by the Public Relations Foundation of Texas (PRFT) found that both public relations educators and employers of entry-level public relations graduates are concerned that recent graduates lack the ability to write effectively.

A news release announcing the survey quotes Jim Haynes, APR, chairman of the PRFT board of trustees, as saying that the lack of adequate writing skills is the most visible and troublesome weakness among recent graduates entering the practice of public relations.

"There is good news, however,” Haynes said in the news release. “Both educators and employers gave today’s students and recent graduates high marks for both deductive reasoning abilities and creativity.” 

Today''s undergrads have a tainted view of the role of public relations, influenced by Lizzie Grubman and her ilk and programs such as "Power Girls," which suggest that PR consists primarily of late night entertaining and shoving clients in front of waiting paparazzi. If there''s a mis-step that puts your client in a vulnerable position, don''t worry about it because we have a hot-line to the tabloid.

"It''s like, totally!"

According to Haynes, the PRFT is evaluating ways to assist both faculties and employers with retro-training programs in basic writing skills. 

"We expect to offer a plan to faculties and employers within a few months – a plan designed to fill what is obviously a serious need today,” Haynes said in the news release.

In the meantime, clients should demand that they get senior level public relations counselors working on their accounts. Don''t settle for PR wannabes.