Public relations, or PR as many know it by, is a competitive field, and it isn’t hard to see why. After all, it’s a career that provides both a high salary and a diverse, interesting work-life that you can’t get with most other jobs. So, if you’re planning on kickstarting your career in PR, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and determination. This guide will take you through just how you can get your dream job working in public relations.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like?
PR is all about communications, so you won’t be surprised to learn that the typical day often involves a lot of liaising and talking with people both online and in person. That could include posting social media posts about the latest goings-on of the company, writing a press release, or sending out a newsletter. Overall, the goal of a PR pro is to maintain a positive reputation for the brand.
So, if you are interested in pursuing a job in public relations, read on to learn how you can achieve just this.
Pursue Further Education
Your first step is to ensure that you educate yourself on PR. There are plenty of ways that you can do this in your own free time, such as reading or watching videos about it online, but if you are serious about achieving this job, then you must first pursue further education. By studying for a masters in public relations, you will learn all about event management, crisis communication, and media relations, which will set you up for a variety of jobs in PR, including social media and media managing. By holding a relevant master’s, you will stand out to public relations recruiters upon graduation.
Good news if you are already in a full-time career – you can study for your masters in public relations from the comfort of your own home. Thanks to online study, you don’t need to sacrifice time or travel money to gain the qualifications you need to work in PR. If you are planning on studying for an online masters in public relations and want to ensure you get the most out of your education, you should:
- Form an Online Study Group: An online study group will help you keep up to date with the latest assignments while ensuring you secure bonds with your classmates.
- Keep in Touch with Your Professor: Your professor is there to help, despite not being physically present – use them.
- Set a Schedule for Each Semester: There’s no room to fall behind when studying from home, so create a schedule around your other obligations at the start of each semester (and stick to it!).
- Let Your Manager Know About Your Studies: By letting your manager know you are studying for a masters in public relations, they’ll be more understanding when you can’t take on overtime.
- Never Skip an Online Class: You might think that it’s easier to catch up on online classes, but this where you would be wrong. It’s easy to fall behind when you’re not in a physical classroom, so make attending every online class an absolute priority.
Remember – studying online isn’t an easy route, as it involves a lot of time management and determination from you. Fortunately, both of those skills will help you out when you start your PR career.
Anyone interested in a public relations career should already be interested in and consuming tons of media. Without that, you’ll have a tricky time knowing what audiences want! To push yourself further, make consuming media a scheduled part of your day. For example, spend twenty minutes of your morning reading the latest headlines and digesting the latest trends on social media. Even a quick look at the Twitter trending page is enough when you’re in a hurry.
It’s not just crucial to consume media, though – you must also be present on it. That means having a Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram account where you show off your professionalism, ambitions, and skills. Think of yourself as your own business and present yourself as such on social media, and you will find that more companies become open to hiring you. After all, if you can manage your personal brand online, you are much more likely to succeed at doing that for other brands. If you really want to show off your PR skills, you could even start your own blog or YouTube channel where you upload content regularly.
Improve Your Skills
While you will learn many of the necessary skills during your masters in public relations, you must also improve them if you want to stand out from the crowd. The essential skills you must work on if you want to land a job in PR include:
- Communication – Both Written and Spoken
Perhaps the most crucial skill for anyone working in public relations, communication is necessary for speaking with co-workers, contacting other brands, and connecting with an audience. You need to be clear, concise, and persuasive in both your written and spoken language. To improve on this, try speaking to more people (for example, at events) and practice writing every day.
Creativity is another necessary skill for those who work in PR, so practice using this side of your brain. Whenever you’re tasked with a problem, you’ll need to come up with innovative and creative ways to achieve your goals, whether that’s writing a piece of content or figuring out how to attract new customers.
There will be several (and perhaps numerous) times throughout your PR career where you’ll need to give presentations. While you probably learned this skill at school and during your masters in public relations, the chances are there are some improvements to be made, so consider joining a debate or public speaking group to nail this skill. Your goal is to give presentations that are informative, clear, and engaging. If you’re nervous, remember – the secret to gaining confidence is faking it until you make it, so push yourself onto that stage!
- Time Management
There is no denying that PR pros are extremely busy – expect to always be run off your feet! It’s crucial, then, that you have excellent organization skills, especially when it comes to time management.
With how busy the role is, it helps to learn how to multi-task, too. It’s something that comes naturally to some but not others. If you struggle with it, try writing to-do lists and prioritizing tasks.
A change in schedule, trends, and environment can make a huge difference to your working day. It helps, then, to be flexible. That means being able to adapt to change quickly and easily without any setbacks or stress.
Know for Sure That It’s the Right Path for You
It can often be challenging, with long working hours and a large workload not unheard of, so it’s crucial to make sure you are the right fit for the job. A couple of questions to ask yourself are:
- Can You Work Long Hours?
As mentioned, working long hours isn’t unheard of, so make sure you aren’t afraid of twelve-hour shifts for those busy periods.
- Do You Handle Pressure Well?
Pressure goes hand in hand with PR, especially when dealing with crisis communications. There will often be days where you are swamped with work, and instead of caving under the pressure, you must prioritize tasks and work through the list in a calm and collected manner.
- Do You Enjoy Conversing with Others?
There won’t be a day that goes by while working in PR that you won’t need to converse with multiple people. So, make sure that you genuinely enjoy being around others and having conversations.
- Are You a Quick Learner?
When working with a new client, you will need to learn about their practices as quickly as possible. If you know you can pick up information very quickly, then you won’t need to worry.
- Are You Socially Aware?
As a PR specialist, you must understand cultural sensitivities and different background’s perspectives in order to appease all audiences and avoid saying the wrong thing in certain situations. If you’re already socially aware, this will suit you well.
- Why Do You Want to Work in PR?
Another important question you must ask yourself when deciding whether or not it is the right path for you is “why do I want to work in PR?”. The answer shouldn’t just be a single answer revolving around a paycheck or a fleeting vision, but rather a list of genuine reasons why you dream of becoming a PR pro.
Remember – one of the ways to appeal to PR recruiters is integrity and determination. Even if you have all the skills, if you don’t have the passion or drive, you will not be wanted.
Build a Network of People
Another important step is meeting other people in the business. As soon as you start your public relations journey, you should begin building a strong network of people to help you grow in your career. For example, when studying for your masters in public relations, try to create as many strong bonds as possible. One of those people might just recommend you for a PR job of a lifetime in the future!
Networking doesn’t stop once you find your first PR role, either. You’ll constantly be making new connections at events and over the web, so keep building your networking skills to thrive in this area. A few quick tips include:
- Maintain Eye Contact
- Work on a Strong Handshake
- Keep Your Intro Short and Sweet
- Listen with Intent
Know How to Nail an Interview
As mentioned, PR is a competitive field, so you’ll need to go above and beyond when showcasing your skills. Writing an excellent resume to appeal to recruiters is one thing; nailing an interview is another.
One of the most important parts of preparing for an interview is researching the company you are interviewing for. They aren’t looking for someone who has applied to the job on a whim – they are searching for someone who has a great desire to work there and will put in lots of effort to make sure they do. Plus, by doing in-depth research on the company, you show off your research skills, which you’ll need plenty of if you get the job!
Choose the Area You Want to Work in
There are a couple of different areas to work in when it comes to PR, so take some time deciding where you want to work. You might not know at first, and that’s OK – you’ll likely figure out what you enjoy doing most when studying for your masters in public relations.
A couple of popular PR career areas include:
- Social Media
- Public Affairs
- Media Relations
- Internal Communications
There are more, so do plenty of research before jumping into the first job offer you come across.
The next step is to find some work experience. This isn’t always easy, so spend some time working on your resume and reaching out to different PR companies. Preferably, you would find some kind of internship or experience during your masters in public relations. The more experience you gain early on, the easier you’ll find achieving your career goals in the future.
If you cannot find a job at first, you can still gain experience from the comfort of your computer by working on your online presence and practicing written and verbal communications. If you have a public speaking club or class nearby, for example, the experience gained from attending would greatly benefit your future PR career. Plus, you can work on your own PR by setting up social media accounts and showcasing your skills on there.
Climb the Ladder
Once you have completed your masters in public relations and landed a job, if you are the ambitious type, then it is time to start thinking bigger. Climbing the ranks in PR is just as difficult as landing your first role, but thankfully, you’ll have plenty of experience by this point. The key is consistency. By showing up to work every day, working on your PR skills, juggling several tasks, and keeping clients happy, you will soon find even better opportunities presenting themselves to you.
A job in public relations is no walk in the park. If you are motivated and skilled enough, though, you can land a PR role that’ll provide stability, a great salary, and a career that’ll never bore you.