Public Relations is a dynamic industry where you truly get out of it what you put in. The foundational years may be an overwhelming whirlwind, but they are incredibly important and rewarding. I learned a lot in my first two years as a PR professional. If you’re thinking about a career in PR, check out these tips.
1. Utilize connections – The public relations industry is about the personal and professional connections you make, maintain, and utilize. Reach out to every PR pro you know for resume feedback or industry tips. Use connections to set up informational interviews or even job shadowing. Not only will you learn everything there is to know about a company, but it’s also a fantastic, no pressure way to get to know potential supervisors.
2. Internships/work experience – While a plus, majoring in communications is not necessary to have a successful career in PR. The most successful public relations professionals wear several hats and utilize a variety of individual skillsets. Get as much work experience as possible; hold a communications position at an on-campus club or organization, intern at an agency, help with your university’s communicative writing – anything it takes to learn communication foundational essentials.
3. Writing skills are key. This tip comes from Diana Haven, the CEO of Ellipses, as the first thing she looks for in a job applicant is how well they write. Excellent writing skills are crucial to your success in the industry, as you’ll constantly be writing emails, press materials, blog posts, social media content and much, much more. Learn AP Style, take courses in writing, and do everything you can to ensure you’re at the top of your game. Tip: When applying for a job, craft your initial cover letter or introductory email as you would a very important pitch to a journalist. Do your research and tailor your outreach to that company, and address your letter to a specific person. That will get you in the door.
4. Consistent feedback from bosses/supervisors. Whether you’re in an internship or a full-time position, make sure you are receiving consistent feedback from your supervisors. Do not be offended by constructive criticism. Use it as a way to improve your work habits. Think of it this way; your supervisor would not bother spending time giving you feedback if they did not believe in your skills!
5. Do your research. Educate yourself on the industry you’re interested in pursuing, both from the product and journalistic perspective. If hospitality interests you, spend time each morning reading all relevant publications for restaurants or hotel openings/closings, hotel reviews, industry updates, and anything else that may be relevant. From a journalistic perspective, which journalists/publications cover your industry? What is each journalist’s writing style? What specific topics do they typically cover? Essentially, know your stuff – it will come in handy!
6. Be present. Speak up, raise your hand, express your ideas, and most of all, learn everything you can. Never say no to an opportunity to learn, and don’t turn down any task. Ask your supervisor, the managers from teams you don’t work on, or even take the CEO to coffee to learn about their career path. Do whatever you have to do to learn everything you can, and make yourself stand out in the process.