Whether you’re a university graduate entering the world of work, or are simply looking for a career change, choosing a path can be difficult when you have very little idea of what your new day-to-day is going to involve; particularly if you’ve studied an arts or humanities degree that has no clear job route. Nevertheless, choose a career you must; and if PR is something you’re considering, here are a few things you should know before you get stuck in.
1) Doing an internship first is a great idea
This isn’t exclusive to PR and isn’t an absolute necessity, but if you can nab yourself some work experience in the sector – even if just for a week or two – before applying for a full-time position, you’ll be able to work out whether this is the industry for you. It will also mean that if you do decide to apply for a ‘proper’ role, you’ll already have an understanding of what’s expected of you when you show up on your first day. This is never a bad thing, and can make settling into the new role a little bit easier.
2) You have to read the news
Public relations is inextricably linked with the media agenda, so you have to know what people are writing about if you’re going to get the press wins. A large part of working in comms involves staying on top of what’s in the news and taking note of what’s hot; not only in terms of politics and current affairs, but also any consumer lifestyle features and trends that could be relevant to your clients. Everything you watch, read or listen to can feed into work, and could be a potential slot for a client either now or in the future. So pay attention, because you never know when the perfect opportunity for your client could arise.
3) Journalists find PR people annoying, but we need each other really
The relationship between journalists and PRs is historically fraught with tension, and it’s a stereotype that perpetuates despite the fact that the relationship is mutually beneficial. Journalists are busy and need stories, and we have stories to tell; it’s just a case of pitching them properly, to the right person, and trying not to waste anybody’s time. It doesn’t help that PR people outnumber journalists in a big way, meaning the latter are completely inundated with pitches and press releases. But at the end of the day everybody is just trying to do their job; do yours well and you’ll get along fine.
4) Every contact is useful
When it comes to networking, every contact you can make is relevant. The person you’re speaking with might be able to introduce you to some valuable contacts or might know somebody looking to hire a PR agency. Or you might just be able to learn a few things about comms strategy and marketing objectives by chatting to businesses about what they’re up to. Basically, network with everybody you can, because one conversation could turn into a new client lead or a flash of inspiration which could pay dividends further down the line.
5) It’s good to have opinions
Just because you’re working for a client and have their voice and brand in mind, doesn’t mean you can’t hold opinions of your own. Your voice can always inform your work, and your personal interests may help you see things from a perspective that a client hasn’t previously considered. Not only this, but as well as setting the media agenda and getting stories in the press on your clients’ behalf, why not write something for yourself? Getting your own pieces published leads to a great sense of achievement, is great for your professional profile, and also shows that you know what makes a good story.
6) It’s not all Twitter and press releases
When someone says public relations, it’s usually a big media crisis, a string of press releases, and some social media management that spring to mind. In reality, there’s a lot more to PR than those three things. Communicating a message and creating content can take many forms, including (but not limited to) TV and radio appearances, podcasts, blog posts, mail outs, newsletters and Insta stories. There are so many means through which we can work, it’s just about picking the right one at the right time. A role in PR is far from one-dimensional, so be prepared to be adaptable and to write. A lot.
Have any questions about applying for a job in PR? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help!
by Amy Mace, Senior Account Executive, Crest Comms