Top tips on how to bag your first job in Public Relations!
Not sure if Public Relations is for you? Maybe you're not sure where to start or what to research? Have a read of our top tips below to start you on your journey.
Is Public Relations the career for you?
Working within Public relations can be an extremely rewarding career with endless opportunities across every business sector imaginable. We won't lie, the job definitely has its perks. Working closely with high profile celebrities and schmoozing at champagne-fuelled events might seem wonderful but let us assure you, it's not all glitz and glam! Be warned, you may soon become an office owl become known to your friends as the "Coffee Connoisseur", not what you signed up for!
What exactly is Public Relations?
Public Relations, also known in short as PR is the administering of information from a source such as a business, which is then directed towards an audience. This could be anyone from your average person to journalists. The main goal of any public relations department is to enhance the reputation or to portray an organisation in a positive way. Simply put, you live and breathe the company!
How to get a job in Public Relations?
We think it's vital to research which sector you would like to develop your public relations career in, as each varies massively, with regard to your day to day work load and also future opportunities. We're not suggesting that you be meticulous about accepting your first job offer but it's best to target a niche you may enjoy and then research it thoroughly.
For example, if you think that a PR career within a charity organisation suits you best, then getting as much information about the processes and required skills within this sector will give you a competitive edge.
Some great tips are to research what the current public relations teams are doing within that company by checking what previous coverage they have published. This could be researched within newspapers, blogs, and websites. Thus demonstrating your interest in their company and dedication to get involved. Read as much as you can!
A great way to do this is by using custom Google searches. If you were interested in a job opportunity at the British Heart Foundation, here are some Google operators that would return recent press coverage in two newspapers. These provide an idea of press campaigns or events that the Charity is currently running and would be great to mention in an interview.
site:guardian.co.uk "British heart foundation" or "bhf"
site:independent.co.uk "British heart foundation" or "bhf"
Another great tip to help keep your finger on the pulse is to set up Google Alerts so you can monitor certain keywords. This means every time Google caches new data, you will automatically be emailed details of this, whether it's a blog mentioning a brand name or a news site.
Choosing between PR agency or in-house
Working in-house or at a PR agency both have their plus points and drawbacks, so it's a good idea to think about what would be the best choice for you and your future before committing to anything.
PR agencies often work with multiple clients on a variety of campaigns that can offer different roles and opportunities. This can provide some great work experience.
You might find yourself working on several projects in just one day. This could be a good thing if you like new challenges. It can however, be a little off putting if you would rather dedicate yourself to certain campaigns for longer time periods.
If you choose to work in-house for a big company you will not get the variation of projects, that you would get within an agency. It might not sound too bad but if you're working on the same campaign day in, day out, it might become laborious, repetitive and a little unexciting.
However, one of the advantages might be that you have the job security of working within a large company and quite often, this results in the pay being higher. Not to mention, the opportunities for promotion being greater. You might even get the chance to migrate to another country!
Best places to look for Public Relations jobs
There are thousands of job sites across the Internet. Some are great and others are riddled with spam, so searching through these can be a mammoth process.
The best advice we can offer is to search on job boards, which specialise in Public Relations careers. These sites can offer not only the latest PR jobs but also a wealth of information related to this industry.
One of the most popular PR job boards is the Guardian PR Jobs Board. This is very expensive for employers to post upon, thus you can rest assured that the jobs are always legitimate and from reputable companies. The PR Week job board is also an excellent resource as it is run by one of the leading PR news websites, which again gives it excellent industry coverage and respect.
PR Moment is an independent job board run by an online PR magazine.
Marketing Week is also a frequently updated resource which is widely used.
If you are a graduate you can also tap into the official government careers website www.prospects.ac.uk/ which has direct links to a range of universities.
- Gorkana Jobs
- Brand Republic
- Guardian Marketing & PR Jobs
- PR Moment
- Prca Jobs
- Third Sector Jobs [Charity PR Jobs]
- Simply Marketing Jobs
A lot of PR companies like to keep job postings local and don't advertise on national websites so it's also good to look at the HollisPR directory which is an updated list of PR agencies in the UK. From there click the individual websites and check the career section for job opportunities.
Other ways to find a job include going to specialist PR recruitment agencies who will be able to help you find a job. These are sometimes a last resort as they can administer a fee and are often temporary. However, if you are looking for short term employment or experience, this could well be a better option.
Public Relations work placements
With the current rate of unemployment in the UK you might be finding it difficult to secure your first job in public relations. It would be a good idea to get some work experience or carry out a placement with a local PR company. This would help boost your CV and provide the quality "hands on" experience employers like to see.
Finding a placement can often be quite easy as lots of companies offer these opportunities due to the lower paid salary.
A simple yet effective way to search for a placement is to create a cover letter asking for the opportunity, explaining your current situation and how you would like to get aquainted with a career in PR.
Network like a pro
Quite often the success of a PR campaign will rely on who you know. That's why it is vital to network with current people within the industry and to create close working relationships with other PR professionals. Social media has made this really easy, within minutes you could set up a twitter account and follow a plethora of leading people in the PR industry and even introduce yourself. Get involved and make yourself known!
One of the best resources to follow and interact with people in this industry is on LinkedIn, a business social networking site. You can setup a profile, join PR groups, view job postings from companies and most importantly get your name out in the open and interact with potential employers and colleagues.
Facebook also has a massive selection or public relations groups, which you can join and interact with.
It's also a good idea to take a break from the screen and go to the various networking events, meetups and conferences. Here you can meet people in the PR industry and share contacts. This could be vital whilst looking for work and also help build up your future contacts.
Here are some great websites to find local events:
- Event Bite
- PR Week
PR Blogs to keep your eye on
As stated above it's always a good idea to keep your eye on the industry by reading blogs and news about public relations to get a feel for what's going on. We have selected our favourite PR blogs for you to peruse:
- The Red Rocket
- 10 Yetis PR Blog
Gift of the gab
Depending on which PR sector you go into, having the "gift of the gab" so to speak, could be vital to whether your career is a successful one. After all, it's all about communication with the public. You're going to have to get comfortable talking to people you don't know. Whether this is on the phone, in person, on Skype, via email or some other mode of communication.
You also have to be thick skinned as you will often find yourself trying to sell your story to journalists or other media persons who may express their disinterest in an unfriendly manner. However, you have to bite your tongue and move on. Don't worry though....it's all character building!
You might find yourself having to sell something you don't necessary believe in, which can be hard to do if you cannot find the right angle. It's best to know your goals and source, making sure you target the right people. Your must speak with authority like you truly believe in your story. If you do not have faith in your own product or story, it will be impossible to convince others.
Do I need a degree or good education to get a job in Public Relations?
If you have excellent persuasive and communication skills, then you have some of the rudimentary characteristics to start a prosperous career in public relations. A formal education is not always, what an employer is looking for, but as with any job,it's always an advantage, as it will provide you with the competitive edge against other applicants... on paper at least. Like most job interview, potentials are generally chosen based on their CV so if you have anything to shout about make sure it goes on there along with any formal education.
If you want to start a career in PR but don't have any formal qualifications then it's worth looking for entry-level jobs such as trainee or junior roles, which can be great starting points. You might even find it useful taking on work experience or a placement. These sometimes lead to full-time employment at the same company.
Employers might not always specifically look for a degree in Public relations. Other similar courses such as journalism, new media, marketing, social media, creative writing etc... are all examples of what an employer might be looking for on your CV.
How SEO comes into public relations and why you should care
It is vital in this digital age to have a good understanding of how to optimise PR campaigns to make the most of SEO in an effort to increase a client's online visibility through multiple media channels.
There is a fantastic article from econsultancy called 'SEO PR', what it is and why you should care. It is definitely worth a read and further research.
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