How to Get a Job in PR
Public relations is a dynamic, rewarding and exciting career that offers a wealth of opportunities for development and personal growth. It’s also highly competitive and one of the most popular careers that graduates seek after university.
This means that getting a job in the industry can be somewhat challenging, especially if you have an unrelated academic background, you’re looking for a mid-career switch or you lack experience.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your dream of working in the PR industry.
Here are several tips on how you can kick-start your new career.
1. Stay up to date
This helps give you a better understanding of current issues and trends and will also give you a competitive edge when you’re looking for a job.
Don’t just stick to traditional media either. PR is increasingly becoming more digital so include newspapers, blogs, magazines, social media and even podcasts.
2. Keep your finger on the pulse
Following the latest developments in the PR industry will also give you invaluable insight into how strategies work in the real world.
As you see what makes a link clickable, what makes PR stunts work and how brands effectively communicate with their customers and consumers, you can deepen your understanding and grow your skillset.
Importantly, you’ll also learn what happens when a business experiences a PR crisis and how they seek to overcome it. You’ll see how they identify key opportunities within the challenges, reconnect with their customers and limit the damage to their brand.
As independent communications consultancy Pagefield say, “Businesses need to be aware that [a lost opportunity to connect meaningfully with consumers] has a negative impact not only on the success of a campaign, but also creating a brand perception that is hard to shake off.”
Therefore, if you can demonstrate your ability to listen to your audience, notice key trends and understand reputation management and branding, you’ll have a much better chance of finding the job you want.
3. Study public relations
Gaining a qualification in marketing and public relations can help you break through into the industry and build your career, whatever level you’re currently at.
Whether you’re a university graduate or a complete beginner, there are many routes into the career including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and other training courses.
You should always look for courses certified by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) to help build your professional profile and reputation. This includes the CIPR Foundation, Professional PR Certificate, Professional PR Diploma as well as the online CIPR Foundation course offered by companies such as the PR Academy.
It’s also worth looking out for other PR training opportunities such as online and face-to-face marketing courses, apprenticeships and internships. Company-sponsored training, conferences, brand summits and online webinars can also help you develop and maintain the skills you’ll need in the industry and many of them are free.
If you’re passionate about other related fields such as graphic design, photography or content marketing, it’s worth pursuing these paths too. They’ll help you stand out in an extremely highly competitive market and potentially lead you into other specialisations.
4. Get connected
Who you know is often more important than what you know when it comes to climbing the public relations ladder and finding your dream job.
That’s why you should do as much networking as you can; attending networking events and meeting as many people as you can. Don’t just stick to your industry but also explore other business networking events. Often these can bring surprising and unexpected opportunities your way.
Also remember to keep nurturing your existing relationships and stay in touch with any friends you have in the industry, previous bosses, mentors, and so on. They too might bring job opportunities your way.
5. Build an online profile
Start building an online presence to showcase your skills and attract potential opportunities, even if you’re just starting out in your career.
Create your personal brand by combining your speciality, personal style, skills and experience then build yourself a social media platform or website.
Keep an eye on industry news and share your own views often. Share useful information, tips and anything else you believe your followers would find useful. Keep it polished and professional at all times but make sure you let your personality shine.
6. Get work experience
As the public relations sector is so competitive, work experience is highly valued and can help you stand out against other applicants when searching for your dream job.
An internship, placement or entry-level role will provide you with excellent professional experience that you can use to build your portfolio.
It can also help you figure out whether the career is a good fit for your personality, which areas you might like to specialise in.
7. Seek out opportunities
If you’re serious about finding your dream job, you need to be proactive. You need to go out there, seek out opportunities and then chase them.
If you have been keeping your finger on the industry pulse, you should be able to post relevant opportunities that fit your skills and experience.
You can also identify who you want to work for and then apply directly to them with a letter of introduction. Even if they’re not looking for a new member of the team immediately, they may keep your details on file and could reach out in the future.
8. Crush that interview!
Prepare thoroughly before your interview beforehand so you can show your prospective employer that you would be a positive addition to the team.
Research carefully before you attend the interview, and understand the organisation’s mission, philosophy, clients and history so you understand what they might be looking for in an employee. Look at their website, their social media profiles and any other media presence as you prepare.
Also think carefully about the questions that the interviewer might ask and ensure that your answers highlight your skills and experience.
During the interview itself, speak clearly and concisely and aim to present yourself as you would in any other PR project.
When you’re looking for a job in public relations, you need to be focused, motivated and determined that you can make it happen.
Keep your finger on the industry pulse, network, build an online presence, follow a training course or two and seek out opportunities so you can beat the competition and find your perfect career.