For many, starting a career in Public Relations is not easy. But just how do you go about getting into the industry? Well, there are several interesting aspects to consider:
1) A degree is not always essential. Whilst many go to University and get a degree in PR, communications or English before looking for work, it is not the be all and end all. The Public Relations apprenticeship scheme run in association with the PRCA helps young people gain the necessary experience as well as qualifications
Apprentices are appealing because they receive practical experience and they get to truly know what it is like to work in the industry at a younger age. Unlike many university graduates that will be 21ish by the age of 20 they will have worked in the industry two or three years.
2) Experience is key. Companies/agencies are unlikely to take on a new member if they have not gained some sort of experience in the industry before looking for employment. Whilst some university courses have work placements as part of the course, actually seeking experience independently will help you see what the industry is like. Taking on interns regularly ourselves, we notice a huge difference in how much more developed people are once they have worked in the industry for just a number of months.
As Pressat has previously stated on its website, “it would be a good idea to get some work experience or carry out a placement with a local PR company.” Because PR is such a competitive industry, this will make you stand out from the crowd.
3) Knowledge of the industry is essential. You will not last very long if you are not up to date with what is happening in an ever-changing industry like PR, so it is essential that you read relevant material. Aside from helping you understand your work, it will also give you fresh inspiration and ideas.
As Jon Gloyne, an experienced PR professional, has stated for an article in The Guardian, “It’s essential to keep up to date with industry news and trends, so make sure you read from sites such as PR Week and Campaign.”
4) Network. In order to get started, it is essential to build up your contacts. Being prominent on all social media websites, not just Facebook and Twitter, will help you to increase your standing. Setting up a LinkedIn account, for example, is essential when going into any profession, not just PR.
As has been written on PRmeetsmarketing.com, “Creating a profile on LinkedIn is a must alongside a traditional resume.” It’s not always what you know, but sometimes WHO you know has a major impact on getting a foot on the ladder.
5) PR Yourself. If you stand out, then you are more likely to get somewhere when looking for a job. As PR is all about “Pray for play,” you need to be able to generate interest in yourself in order to prove you have got what it takes to work in the industry.
The best candidates for positions in agencies are those that are able to make themselves stand out and look different and can market themselves effectively. Our MD Chris Norton is currently lecturing at Leeds Metropolitan University on the PR degree and one of his classes is solely dedicated to helping the undergraduates learning how to market themselves and present themselves better to employers. I know he was happy to help with this because we get so many applications ourselves and some are great and some are terrible.
We have discussed the importance of representing yourself effectively before. What are your experiences of finding work in the industry? Is it more difficult than you had imagined?
Do you have any tips you can share for everyone else?