It’s the time of the year when students across the country find out how they’ve done in their final degree classifications.
For PR students, the joy of getting their final results will soon pass as they look towards starting their first job in the industry. It can be exciting and daunting, but to make the process a little easier, we’ve asked some of our team to give their top tips when it comes to starting out in PR.
Anna Morris, Head of Excellence: “Before starting in a PR career, make sure you have a thick skin. PR isn’t an easy ride and it certainly isn’t for everyone. In an agency you should be prepared to work at a fast pace, multi-task, be a quick thinker and write for hours and hours about lots of different subjects. If you tick all of these boxes as a minimum then get yourself as much work experience as possible.
“Everyone has a stint at Uni under their belt these days and, while an Honours or Masters degree is a fantastic achievement, it won’t set you apart from the hundreds of your peers who will be applying for the same jobs at the same time. Differentiate yourself with experience in as varied a role as possible and build a portfolio of campaigns and coverage as you go to show at interviews.
“My final piece of advice is, if you have a desire to travel and see the world before you knuckle down into a permanent job – do it. Life experiences are just, if not more, as important as industry knowledge. Keep a travel blog as you go to keep your mind sharp and your social media skills up-to-date.”
Karen Wallace, PR Director: “I would advise anyone starting out in PR to join the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Not only will it give you access to a wealth of useful online materials and information, on topics right across the PR spectrum, but it also offers training opportunities in the form of masterclasses, ‘meet the media’ events, and social gatherings. Each get-together should also be seen as a chance to network with like-minded people in a similar field of interest to you. Best practice is best shared.”
Grainne Glenny, PR Manager: “Become a media sponge – buy newspapers and magazines, listen to the radio, explore online content in the office and in your free time. This is the only way to get familiar with the tone/personality of each outlet and who works where – vital in crafting suitable content and having success with your pitch. Down the line, knowing you have mastered the media landscape will increase your confidence when discussing your approach with clients and strategising for success.
“Second to that, join Netwerk, a new collective aimed at young people in media and marketing. As far as I know, it’s the only group dedicated to young people in both fields. Its targeted approach allows us all to understand each other better, to do better work and build our relationships. It also boasts a genius buddy system pairing those with industry experience up with their less experienced peers.”
Daniel Lynch, Press Office Manager: “It’s crucial to know the media you’ll be working with on different campaigns or with different brands. Don’t send a business story to an informal listicle type website and don’t send a heavily branded or light hearted piece to a more serious outlet. You’ll burn bridges in both types of media as journalists will quickly filter out your emails and calls so that even when you pitch an appropriate story they might not bite.”
Natalie Clarke, PR Assistant: “My advice would probably be to abandon all expectations. It is almost definitely not going to be how you think it’s going to be (It’s not quite the same as Samantha from Sex and the City makes it look). So just go with it. Throw yourself into everything, try and do as much as you can and get experience in as many aspects of PR as possible. Listen to those who have been in the field for years and take it all in, but don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas either. I feel like most of us are already immersed in the world of media to some degree, but starting out I’ve found it useful to try and adopt a more critical outlook on everything – campaigns, adverts, stunts, social media. Thinking about what works and what provokes reaction, good or bad, is helpful for getting into the right mindset for PR.”
Charlotte Goss, Intern: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”
“As a fresh-faced graduate who’s itching to start a career in PR, I’ve received A LOT of advice over the past few months. Some of the best advice I received was from a wise boss lady from Clearbox at a university careers event: get yourself noticed, knock on every door, and if you keep knocking one will eventually open. I decided to test this theory with Clearbox itself, keeping up with what the team was working on, interacting on social media and generally keeping in touch… and it landed me some great work experience! In my experience, you can make your own luck when it comes to getting into the PR industry, and there are very few agencies who wouldn’t help you get started. You just have to put yourself out there and ask!”