December 1, 2016
How to Become a Public Relations Specialist
Public relations is an exciting field with plenty of career opportunities for recent grads. If you’re interested in getting started in PR, you might be wondering about the best way to get your foot in the door. Should you attend networking events or try to land an internship at a PR agency? Ideally, you’ll want to do both.
Here are the steps you need to follow in order to become a public relations specialist.
1. Decide where your PR passion lies
Are you interested in working with several different companies or are you more passionate about getting really in-depth knowledge of one specific company? Your answer will help determine which direction you want your PR career to take. For example, if you’re interested in working with multiple brands and getting a high-level view of several different industries, then working at an agency might be the best bet for you. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in getting really hands-on knowledge of a specific industry, then working on an in-house PR team might be a better fit.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure which direction you want to take, we recommend taking on an internship at a PR agency. This will give you a great overview of the different types of accounts PR specialists work on while also giving you the hands-on experience you need to succeed in the industry.
2. Build your skill set by taking relevant classes
At its core, public relations is about storytelling and one of the keys to working in PR is being able to define and promote the stories of the brands you work with. In order to do this effectively, you need to have strong communication skills and a solid understanding of media and marketing trends. To build your skill set, we recommend taking relevant classes such as communications, marketing and media studies. These will help you develop your knowledge of the media industry while also giving you great insights into how to really engage an audience.
Pro Tip: Another way of developing your skills is by taking on a freelance project or creating a brand of your own. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a big project, but it should demonstrate that you understand how to create a brand identity. For example, if you’re interested in fashion as well as public relations, you could start a fashion blog and create a brand strategy around it. Although taking on this type of project is not necessary for landing a PR job, showing that you can take initiative and develop and execute a PR strategy will go a long way toward impressing hiring managers.
3. Take on a PR internship
Another great way to build your skill set is by taking on a PR internship. This will give you hands-on experience of working with clients and help you get a sense of what types of brands and industries you’d most like to work with. Depending on the type of internship you decide to do, you could be working on developing brand strategy, supporting account executives with managing client accounts, writing press releases, managing social channels and more. Taking on an internship is a great way to not only add valuable experience to your resume but to also get a sense of what you really want to do with your PR career.
4. Know what to expect from the interview process
Interviewing for a job in public relations involves showing that you’re informed about the industry and passionate about working with clients to help define and promote their stories. Common questions you’re likely to encounter include “What does public relations mean to you?” and “What is your favorite brand and why?” These questions are designed to test your understanding of branding and marketing techniques and to get a sense of your true interest in public relations. In order to answer them effectively, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re truly enthusiastic about the field and eager to learn more about helping brands succeed.
5. Network, network, network
One of the keys to landing a job in any industry is networking and this is especially important when it comes to public relations. This is because PR relies on building relationships between brands, journalists and audiences in order to deliver results. To do this successfully, it’s important to work on developing strong relationships with colleagues and journalists by attending networking events and meetups, and connecting with others on professional platforms such as LinkedIn.
Working in public relations is an exciting opportunity to promote brands you’re truly passionate about. By following these tips and developing your experience and your network, you’ll be sure to find an opportunity that’s right for you.