PR is a very popular career choice, and for the reason. It offers attractive and varied career options, and exciting opportunities for career development. These are highly appealing the world over, so you will not be the only person looking for work experience or applying for a PR job.
PR is an open industry which is always hungry for new talent. In comparison to many careers, it is relatively easy to get started in public relation. No formal qualifications are needed. No years of training. Moreover, the PR industry continues to show healthy growth rates. But the industry’s very popularity can make getting a job competitive task.
Preparation:gaining direct or indirect experience, vacation jobs and part-time work, non-academic participation at university, building bank of references.
- Get as many internships or as much work experience in PR firms and PR departments as possible. This will demonstrate both your experience and commitment to future employers as well as giving you networking opportunities. If you cannot obtain direct experience try to do something related: work in the media, sales promotion, research, advertising, event management,website development. Such experience can impress potential employers.
- If you cannot work in any of the above fields, try to ensure that in any job you do you acquire useful skills. This could imclude anything from learning about and using the latest office software to dealing with customers, doing the accounts or just working on reception.
- Volunteer to write articles for the university newspaper or one to the magazines-print and online-run by many student societies. Employers will be interested to see what you have done and it will give you something to show and to talk about in an interview.
- Specific experience can be useful. If you are interested in corporate PR or public affairs involvement in the student union, local politics, a pressure group or NGO can be handy,Being involved in events or booking bands could stand you in good stead if you are more interested in consumer or lifestyle PR.
- If an employer praises you, ask if you can use them as a referee when applying for the jobs. Some positive words in writing are always helpful.
- Remember that in any job you need to be punctual, reliable, hard working and enjoyable to work with. It is worth remembering that a reputation for reability never lets you down. A poor attendance record in class can also hold you back. PR is a fun industry but employers still expect you to be in the office on time regardless of how brilliant it was the night before.
Identification: how to research the first approach, how to make contact
Getting a holiday job or internship requires care, attention and a planned and methodical approach.
Use your immediate contacts. Do you parents, other family members, friends work in a business or organisation that may have a job for you?
Attend PR industry events and strike up conversations. Don’t be shy and stand apart! Remember to try to get people’s business cards. USe social media. Follow PR people on Twitter and respond when appropriate. Join LInkedIn.
Once you have identified some target organisations read up about them and if you can find the name of the person you sould contact. When emailing it is usually better to use the person’s family name rather than their given name. So Mr Morris not Trevor.
Try to leep your covering email or letter short and to the point. “I see you have recently won the prestigious PR account for Moroccan Tourism. I am a PR graduate, have undertaken work experience in two travel PR firms and have oublished several articles on my travel experience.”
Dont try to put your whole CV into the letter. Concentrate in what matters to the employer.
Your CV should be posted on to the bottom of your email rather than sent as an attachment. Some attachments from unknown sources are immediately sent to the spam folder.
The CV itself should be no more than two pages, with the most relevant and most recent experience- including degree, skills, work backgound.
Alsom be careful with what you say under personal interests. Not everyone approves of hunting, likes every religious peopleor understands why transpotting is an interesting hobby!
Once you have sent an email application you MUST check your emails every day and reply immediately if you receive any response.
Be prepared for rejection. Sadly some firms do not even bother to reply to applicants. Do not take it personally. Whatever it is , keep on trying. One og the great things about the PR, is that there are literally thousands of openings. You will get there in the end.
Presentation: the interview-preparation, arrival and the interview itself.
So you have got an interview. What do you do?
There is no excuse in not knowing about the organisation and indeed the person or people you are meeting. Failure to do some homework shows a lack of initiatives and interest. Use Google to find out what the media have been saying about them. Chech the trade press, such as PR week. Think about the character and culture of the organisation.
Think about the questions you would like to ask the interviewer. These questions can be about the job itself or the organisation, or both.
Try to dress in a style that suits the organisation that you are visiting. As a general rule,tend towards smart rather than casual and avoid flamboyance, high fashion, very high heels, short skirts. You want a job, not a date!
Arrive about 10 minuites earlier-but not much earlier!
Arriving late leaves a terrible impression. Do not sit down in the reception unless you know there will be a long wait. Much better to remain standing so you can walk forward confidentlym and shake the hands of the person who has come to meet you.
You should have thought about what questions they might ask you and have some answers prepared. Why are you interested in them? Why do you want to work in PR? What are you good at?
Make sure you are up to date with what is happening in the news.PR is very much about media relations in one form to another. Be prepared for some small, on the spot tests. PR consultancies often ask interviewees for full time jobs to write a press release based on some basic information.
At the end of interview thank your interviewees, ask if there is anything you have not covered that they would want to know about and finally ask when and how you are likely to hear if you have got the position. If you do not get the job try to find out why. Sometimes you may get some useful feedback.
If you do get the job read the next section.
Induction: getting started-punctuality, appearance, enthusiasm and being nice to the receptionist and admin people.
BE ON TIME-EVERY DAY!
Be willing and cooperative. Be friendly to everyone but particularly receptionists and administrative staff. They can make your life much easier if they like you- and make it quite difficult if they do not. Try to socialise after work with other memebers of staff. But do not let alcohol get the better of you.
Most PR firms and PR departments are friendly places but do remember that people are there to do a job not to look after you. Be prepared to work well with people who would not be your first choice of team member, and to work for people with whom you cannot always agree. Be keen. Volunteer for new projects and jobs. And praise your boss and colleagues. They lie praise as much as you do!