When I first came to college I was a music education major, but after my first semester decided I love music but teaching it is not for me. I went undeclared for a semester and stumbled upon public relations. While I did not know a lot about it, I soon discovered through research what it is. I also got hands-on experience before I even changed my major to PR while I was a stage manager for a play my theater teacher was directing. Needless to say, here I am today, very passionate about my major and very sure with what I want to do with my life.
The point of the rant I just went on about changing my major is that while I was a music major my professors did not say how important research is, while in PR research is one of the most important things you can do and professors stress that to me all of the time. You have to stay on top of the industry and follow the trends. This is a very competitive field, and being a college student I can gladly say I research a lot. When I run across something interesting in the New York Times or on CNN I usually dig deeper to see what I can find.
Not only do you need to research news stories, but when working with a client it is vital to research the client before you begin working with them. Know as much as you can before the initial meeting and bring questions to them. They should not have to spend half of the hour you get with them explaining what they do. Also, when applying for jobs researching companies you apply to is key. A company is unlikely to hire you if you do not even know what it is they do. Find out if they are involved with social media, what their most current projects are and so on. Impress them in the interview. They do not want to be questioned about what their company is by someone applying for a job. They want to ask you the questions!
Research, research, research! Even if you are not in public relations, research the field you are in. Stay on top of it, because nine times out of ten it changes regularly. Do not be left in the dark, research!