Kieran Hall writes…
When I got my first job in public relations, things were different. Newspapers were the primary source of daily information, fax machines had a legitimate reason for being and iPhones didn’t exist. And that was only five years ago.
The roles, responsibilities and skill set of a good PR practitioner have also evolved considerably during that time and continue to do so as digital media and social networking sites broaden the way we communicate with each other.
And yet despite all of this change, the key fundamentals of landing that all-important first job in PR remain largely intact.
So what can you do to improve your chances of breaking into the industry and begin carving out a career in communications?
Here are my top five tips:
- Get work experience. I know I’m stating the bleeding obvious here, but organising work experience with a PR agency is a great way to develop skills and expand your networks. And you never know where it could lead, so treat work experience like an audition, get involved as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Finetune your writing skills. To be an effective communicator, you must be able to write – and write well. Whether compiling your CV for a prospective employer or drafting a story pitch for a journalist, the words you type often constitute the first contact you make with people you’re trying to persuade, so be sure those words are engaging, coherent and correctly spelt! So practice, and if you have to, take a writing class.
- Network. I know it can be daunting and sometimes a drag but giving up a night on the couch watching MasterChef for an industry networking event can certainly be worth the effort. Get out there and meet people, share your ambitions, connect on social networks and keep in touch to ensure you’re top of mind when those job vacancies come up.
- Build your knowledge of social media. As more companies look to integrate social media into their PR mix, a sound understanding of all things digital is valuable. Continue to learn about the latest trends and showcase your skills by being active in online conversations.
- Become a media observer. Listen, watch, read and learn about all forms of media, including press, radio, TV and online. Familiarise yourself with the names of journalists and the rounds they cover, as well as the way in which they report and what is deemed newsworthy. Appreciating how a journalist thinks is critical in PR.
There are no doubt many more considerations for PR jobseekers and I invite you to respond with any tips of your own.
In the meantime, remember that the best opportunities generally go to the cream of the crop so be willing to go that extra mile to develop your skills, expand your networks and build your personal brand to help get your foot in the door.
Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.