Becoming one of the 48,000 people who work in Public Relations is not an easy task. There is fierce competition for each position. Between December 2013 and January 2014, there was a 1% increase in the number of media job postings and a 30% increase in the number of people looking for jobs in PR.
This post was written by Josh Hansen with Workfish
PR job seekers should also be aware that it isn’t always a glamorous role hanging around celebrities and at parties. There are times when perhaps you are staying late one evening or going into the office at weekends to bring together campaigns or you’re stressed trying to push out a news release to journalists.
And to make matters worse, there will be those moments when you’ll be faced with some pretty harsh criticism. Having a thick skin in this industry is certainly a bonus.
Yet if this is the life for you, you can increase your chances of securing your dream job by following a plan that those who have come before have succeeded with.
Know the industry
There is no reason why you can’t learn all about the industry before you’ve even made your first application. Make sure that you are reading all the latest publications that are available. PR Week and Campaign are certainly two which should be at the top of your reading list but also search around the web and read some of the blogs written by experienced PR professionals.
If you are looking for a PR job at a certain company – you should research what their current activities are. A great method to achieve this is by conducting specific searches through a search engine. Key-wording ‘jobs in PR‘ will bring up a variety of options, not least niche sector job boards.
Identify who you want to work for
There are different types of PR roles. Those that work for big agencies where you might run two or three company PR profiles or you could work for a single company just conducting their PR activities. Either way the job is practically the same. If you fancy an agency you need to start looking at their websites to see who their clients are.
If they work with clients who are mainly from the automotive industry and you don’t like cars, they might not be suited for you. Likewise if you love cars, you should find out more information about them.
Read about the organisation in the news and the material that they have published. See if it is a style that you enjoy and can work with. You can also look on the ‘Times Best Companies to Work For’ list for further insights of what it is like to work for certain companies (if they are listed).
You need to be the type of person that can easily pick up the phone and speak to someone. If you are not that type of person you need to get practicing. A good start would be to network with those in the industry. Introduce yourself to departments in firms that you have an interest in. This can be a good way to see if there are any opportunities to get your foot through the door in a work experience slot.
Talking to them isn’t just about finding immediate positions however. People remember a face and a voice much better than they remember an email. So your long term prospective will get better. Also a major part of the job role is going to be picking up the phone and speaking to people you’ve never met. If you can demonstrate that skill now – they will remember you better and perhaps when something does come along; they will be calling you up.
Demonstrate your skills
You’ve probably already been looking at a career in PR for some time and hopefully you’ve gone and got some experience already. With that you should have a portfolio. Your portfolio is your sales card. Ensure that you get your work online – but not everything.
Having it online makes it searchable and it is likely that if it is good enough – someone will see it. This is a good way to connect. If you can try to get it launched on another company website rather than your own – it will have more credence and is more likely to be found by search engines.
Another idea for your continued publication would be to start a blog. You don’t have to start a blog about becoming a PR officer. Anything that means something to you is a good subject to discuss. You will write better and your audience will grow faster if you have passion in your subject; and passion is good for being a PR officer.
92% of companies are now using social media as part of their regular recruitment screening. No matter what job you are looking for you should ensure that your social media profile is spotless. However, those looking for a job in PR should consider this a high priority. It is likely that you may be asked to look after a social media account and therefore keeping yours perfect is a way to demonstrate that you can be professional.
Don’t think that hiding a picture of you at a party privately will work. Consider that some people may ‘friend’ you on Facebook and get access to that information. Consider social media as another professional outlet or an extension of your CV.
Getting your foot in the PR career door can be hard and the role is not always as glamorous as others make out. However it is not impossible and the satisfaction from seeing your work in print can be rewarding. What needs to be undertaken is careful planning and dedication to the cause. Realise that everything you do will lead up to your dream career and pursue it.