Congratulations, you’ve decided to pursue a career in the fast-paced and dynamic industry known as Public Relations. Whether you’re still in school or a recent grad it’s important to have a plan on how to land your first job. So, where do you begin? Entry-level PR positions can be difficult to land, so here are some helpful tips to those just starting out.
Decide what kind of PR you are really interested in:
Before you start your quest, decide what PR job is right for you and what kind of office environment you see yourself working in. For example do you see yourself working for a big PR agency or a smaller boutique firm? Or maybe you’re not interested in setting up shop at an agency and you’d prefer to work for a corporation or a not-for profit, doing either internal or external communications? There are many different options for an aspiring PR professional to consider. And it doesn’t stop there; consider what practice you see yourself working in: consumer, healthcare, digital, finance, lifestyle, and the list goes on.
Develop your personal brand
A major part of branding yourself is indentifying your unique selling point; determining what makes you stand out among your peers. Having a pre-developed personal brand is essential for pitching yourself to potential employers.
Network, network and network
So, this may be obvious to many, but networking is a great way for you to get your name and your personal brand out there. Networking isn’t exclusive to PR events. If you’re still in school and a guest speaker comes to talk to your class, ask questions and make sure to get a word with them after class. Pick up a business card and start a dialogue – follow up, invite your new contact for coffee. Networking goes beyond the initial meeting. These relationships must be nurtured to be meaningful
Another way to network is by joining a Professional Association such as CPRS or IABC. These types of associations offer student membership prices making it affordable for students to join. Other perks of joining an association include mentorship programs and different sorts of volunteering opportunities. (To learn more about why you should join a Professional Association read Amanda Laird’s blog post, Three Reasons Why Every PR Pro Should Join a Professional Association.)
A lot of PR programs require students to complete an internship in order to successfully complete their program. Whether it’s a requirement or you’re looking to gain some experience, the best way is through firsthand experience, which you can certainly get through an internship.
After landing an internship remember that you’re there to learn and that you’re not expected to know everything. It’s good to ask questions if you’re unsure about a task and speak up if you have any questions.
Taking initiative is a good way to show your supervisor that you’re a go-getter. If you find yourself with little to do, then ask a colleague if they need any help.
Remember that every little bit counts – even the simplest project shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Always do your best work and with a smile.
Don’t be afraid to suggest a new idea in a brainstorming meeting, even though you may not have seniority. Your fresh perspective can help you stand out from other interns and show your superiors you are a valuable creative member of the team.
A lot of companies or agencies hire interns after their internships are done, making internships a great way to land a job. Even if you don’t get hired, don’t get too discouraged – you’ve acquired some valuable PR experience!
Create an Online Presence
Social media is large part of PR, so make sure you’re connected online, too. Twitter is a great resource to connect with the PR world. Make sure you’re following PR companies and PR professionals and share industry related news to your followers.
Take a crack at blogging You don’t necessarily need to have a blog, but it can be considered a big plus. Blogging is also a great way to show off your writing skills.
Make sure you have a LinkedIn account, considered the ‘professionals’ Facebook’. LinkedIn is a great way to network online with people in the industry. Make sure your resume is uploaded and you share all of your skills and experiences. LinkedIn also now features a job section, another fantastic tool for aspiring PR professional can utilize.
Finding a job can take some time, don’t be disheartened if you don’t get hired right after graduation. Be persistent and Don’t Stop Believing
Good luck and happy hunting!
(This post was written by Kristin Sagan, Junior Consultant, Mansfield Communications)
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