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How To Kickstart A Career In PR After Graduating

Friday 15 November 2019, UCAS advice

by Ella Hendrix

How To Kickstart A Career In PR After Graduating

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Ella Hendrix

Congratulations! You’ve graduated, and now have a hard-earned degree to add to your CV. Have you thought about a career in PR? Public relations can be surprisingly interesting and diverse, no matter what subject your degree is in. If you follow the news, social media, and what’s currently trending, PR could be a great career choice for you.

PR can encompass many skills – from writing and editing to marketing and media relations. Whether you are science or arts trained, you can put your in-depth skills and experience to good use in PR consultancy by specialising in your field of expertise. Think about sports PR, working in PR for a financial institution, or perhaps satisfying the insatiable appetite for digital and social PR. Working in PR within a field you are passionate about will certainly not be a boring desk-bound job. 

So, what qualities do most corporate communications consultancies look for when recruiting a top PR consultant?

  • A degree in almost any relevant subject.
  • Good verbal and communications skills.
  • A natural interest in media and current affairs.
  • Good organisation and planning skills.
  • Flexibility.
  • Enthusiasm and energy.

Let’s look in more detail about how to present yourself as a PR consultant that any business would love to recruit.

Sharpen your writing skills
Being in PR does not mean endless business lunches and invites to coveted launches and social engagements – although that is a part of it. Once you’ve gleaned the important needs of your client, you need to get the message out to the wider community, and that usually means in written form.

You’ll need to know how to write attention-grabbing press releases, magazine articles, and blogs that combine compelling content with word-perfect grammar and spelling. You may have already mastered this as part of your degree, but you can also improve by taking an online course in writing that includes submitting written articles which will be critiqued by your tutor.

Confidence is key
Having a natural outgoing personality is a great asset in PR, but anyone can learn how to grow in confidence. Sometimes it’s just a matter of ‘fake it till you make it.’ Summon up your courage and get out there, socialise, and network. In time, talking (and listening) will become second nature. If you want to be confident, you need to act confident, and the rest will follow.

Be a media maniac
Public relations is all about the present, and perhaps a little about the immediate future. You need to be in touch with current trends – what interests people, and what are people concerned about. The next step is placing your client in the spotlight of newsworthy topical debate. But first, you have to immerse yourself in the media.

Boost skills and experience
PR utilises a broad spectrum of skills beside writing and reading. Logical thinking, networking and outreach, speech writing, presentations, research, and digital marketing through social media platforms all have their place.

You can probably tick off quite a few of these qualities and requirements, so the ones to focus on and improve are the qualities you are least proficient in. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce, writers’ association, debating society, or other business organisations that promote public speaking and leadership will boost your skills, and will look great on your professional resume.

Tailor your job application
You may have already applied for dozens of jobs and could be feeling demoralised and despondent at the lack of a response. However, the answer is not to simply churn out more standard job applications in the hope of getting lucky by the sheer volume of applications you’re sending out. It’s not a prize draw. 

When applying for a job in PR, take time to research the company and delve into their specialist niche advantage over their competition. Then compose a job application that is geared specifically to ticking all the boxes to you get short-listed. Go through it carefully and check for any grammar and spelling mistakes before sending it off.

One well-honed job application that answers exactly what the client needs is all you need to get you on the career ladder.

Still dubious about whether you are really cut out for public relations? Perhaps reading a few interviews from people who’ve found their niche in PR might help.