By Michael Rennett, @michaelrennett
So you want a career in PR – good choice. You’ve chosen an industry that’s creative, sociable and constantly moving, with opportunities to work with a wide variety of clients. It’s not the most difficult industry to get into if you can show the key competences that everyone in PR needs – some of which I’ll cover in this blog.
Firstly, I’ll briefly touch upon how I ended up in PR. I graduated from the University of Warwick in July 2011 and knew that whatever industry I got into, it had to involve technology. I applied for every job going at Apple, Microsoft and Google and had reasonable success, but didn’t feel like any of the roles were specifically right for me.
Instead of rushing into something, I decided to accept a job offer from a PR firm in my local town of Leicester and loved every part of it. From there, I began to apply to agencies that specialised in technology and managed to get a job at AxiCom in Barnes, London, where I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the largest tech organisations in the world.
The great thing about PR is that it is a logical step from nearly every university subject. In my brief time in the industry I’ve met graduates that have studied subjects I never believed could get you into PR – biology, chemistry, maths. All of these subjects are great for careers in PR because they add niche skills that can set you apart from the usual student.
The application process varies as much as a day in PR itself. From a covering letter to an online test, make sure that you take the time to think about the questions asked. For AxiCom, I took the time to write a covering letter from scratch, instead of lazily copying and pasting from previous efforts. It felt like a lot of effort – but taking that extra time helped me get the job. You need to catch whoever reads your application within the first few lines so they immediately feel that they need to see you face to face.
I’ve worked in PR for almost a year, so have a good idea of what skills you need to get anything from an internship to a full time position.
Speaking & Writing Skills: These two will not only get you a job in PR, but also determine how far you’ll go. In my opinion, the best people in PR are those that can connect with anyone. Be it writing a pitch, press release or an email, your ability to connect with your audience is critical. The most amazing story in the world can be lost through a bad phone pitch and the greatest email can secure any story. If you can prove in a covering letter that you can write, or show in an interview that you’re a confident, approachable person, then you’ve got as good a chance as any.
Social Media: Every PR agency wants to do more – though if you want to champion your social media prowess make sure you have evidence. If you want to get into an agency specialising in your favourite subject, try to start building an online following. Write a blog, join forums, comment on every story you see – and link it back to a central Twitter account. If you can show that you’re connected and contributing to your favourite subject it will show dedication and self-motivation.
Enthusiasm to Learn: Graduates aren’t supposed to know everything about PR. In fact, most graduates going into PR (including myself) know very little. Of course – big up your achievements to date, but also remember that you can be honest and admit there are areas you want to improve. I’ve just spoken about the importance of social media, but I didn’t focus on this before I started my current job. However, in my interview I was honest in admitting that it was something I wanted to do more in – and since then I’ve been given the opportunity to do so.
PR is varied, exciting and rewarding. If you’re prepared to give it everything and (occasionally) work some long hours then you will go a long way. The application process can be daunting, but once you are in there is plenty of scope to develop your skills on the job and experience the wide variety of roles PR can offer.
If you have any questions about applying for a job in PR, or want some more tips, just send me a message on twitter (@michaelrennett).
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