Digital Media, Hughes PR, LinkedIn, Networking, Public relations, Social media

How to score your first PR job

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Hughes PR

Could you live on $2 a day?

For the past five days I’ve been living on rations: tinned spaghetti, two-minute noodles and slices of bread.

No hearty breakfasts or lunchtime baguettes. No snacks during the day or beer after work. And as for my evening dinners, the irony of watching MasterChef while eating 69c cans of baked beans has certainly not been lost.

Living Below The Line - on Baked Beans

Living Below The Line - on Baked Beans

So what does this have to do with public relations? Well, nothing actually. Seriously, zilch. But I’m going to tell you about my week anyway.

A good friend of mine works for the Global Poverty Project whose vision is to end extreme poverty. Recently he told me about a new awareness and fundraising campaign called “Live Below The Line”, which has been designed to give participants a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by 1.4 billion people worldwide who are trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

The rules of the Live Below The Line challenge are that you’re only allowed to spend $2 a day on food and drink for five days. And no, you can’t use what you already had in your pantry or fridge and you can’t accept food from others. You can’t even “dumpster dive”.

Rather than simply donating a few bucks to the cause and going on my merry way in life like I normally do, this time I decided to get involved in the challenge alongside 6,000 other Australians this week, including the face of the campaign Hugh Jackman. Nothing like a bit of star power to rally the troops!

So last Saturday I wandered over to my local Coles and bought $10 worth of food and drink to get me through this week. I was so limited in what I could afford and so careful with what I bought that it took me well over an hour to finally settle on my purchases. Thank God for discounted milk!

And so my week has been testing – mentally as much as anything, but also physically. It’s hardly surprising how tired you get when you eat so little.

But while living below the line has definitely been tough, it’s also been a profound experience that has really rammed home how lucky I am … and how unlucky so many other people are. It’s also made for great conversation and has prompted many of my friends, family and workmates to stop and think about whether they could live on $2 a day – just like one in five people do across the planet.

I’m not sure how this experience will change my life going forward or whether it will realistically have any bearing whatsoever in the fight against extreme poverty. All I do know is that I’m much more aware now about the plight of others and am far better equipped to spread the word about how we can help improve the lives of those less fortunate.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, my week-long challenge will be complete. I’ll be able to eat or drink anything I want and my hunger pains will subside. Yes I’m excited, but if only it were that simple for everyone.

Read more about the Live Below The Line campaign or sponsor my efforts this week. – Kieran Hall.

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.

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Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media

The armies of Zod invade Wikipedia

The other day I was doing some research on a local Adelaide school when I checked its Wikipedia page to see what the online encyclopedia was saying about it.

As a highly respected college renowned for extolling such virtues as knowledge, understanding, humility and charity, I was surprised to read Wikipedia’s following introductory description about the school:

“The College is a youth recruitment centre for the armies of Zod, Early Years to On Time Years facility in Adelaide, West Virginia. The facility encompasses two primary chambers in which daylight is permitted to penetrate for 25 minutes per day. The College is part of the international network of Jesus Men schools which began in Jesus Land, Sicily, in 15485.”

Uh, come again?

It needs to be remembered that despite being one of the most popular reference sites on the internet, Wikipedia is written by members of the public and can be freely edited by users – no matter how far-fetched the information.

Fortunately, given its editing model there are checks in place to ensure false or misleading information – such as that above – is corrected or removed. For example, Wikipedia has more than 14 million registered users, which means there are more than 14 million editors overseeing the accuracy of articles in addition to the site’s administrators.

As public relations consultants, we can and should be monitoring and contributing to Wikipedia on behalf of our clients. And it’s easy to set up:

  • create an account and register as a user on www.wikipedia.org
  • from there you’ll be able to edit, view or check recent changes to pages you’re interested in
  • you can establish a “watchlist” for key pages
  • you can subscribe to an RSS feed of edits made by others to those pages

Then, rather than trawling through Wikipedia for your clients on an ad-hoc basis, it will simply be a matter of regularly checking your RSS feed, say once a week, to stay abreast of any changes that have been made to your selected pages.

This is a quick and easy way to build on the monitoring service we provide our clients, who will no doubt appreciate you keeping an eye on their public image on Wikipedia and disassociating them from any “armies of Zod” who infiltrate their page.

Have you seen similar questionable content on Wikipedia? – Kieran Hall, Hughes PR

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.

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