By Hannah Stacey, Exeter History alumna and Account Manager at TopLine Communications.
Are you great at putting pen to paper? A bit of a people person? Good at getting your ideas across? Then you might want to consider a career in public relations. Trouble is that it’s a competitive old world, and getting into the communications industry isn’t as easy as having a sparkling 2.1 in humanities on your CV. Here are three things that are just as important:
1) Knowing what’s going on in the industry
Potential employers will always be impressed by someone who has a good understanding of what’s going on in the industry they want to work in. Rocking the PR world at the moment are the blurring boundaries of ‘traditional’ PR (media relations) and digital marketing (social media, SEO, blogging etc.), so be sure to knock any interviewer’s socks off with a sparkling knowledge of both. Below is a list of publications and Twitter accounts you might want to follow if you’re looking into getting into PR:
- PR Week (@prweekuknews)
- PR moment (@therealprmoment)
- Campaign (@campaignmag)
- Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day)
- The B2B PR Blog (@b2bprblog)
- Econsultancy (@econsultancy)
- The Drum (@thedrum)
2) Having a killer CV
You might have brilliant grades but, unluckily for you, so do a lot of other people trying to get into public relations. PR is a creative industry, so get imaginative with your CV (but obviously not when it comes to your qualifications!). Here are some suggestions for sprucing up your CV:
- Make sure it highlights your relevant skills and experience. Key skills that PR agencies look for are: attention to detail; great communication skills (a must); great writing ability; being a team player; being able to think creatively. This doesn’t mean leaving out your weekend job in the local greasy spoon – just make sure every bit of experience is tied in with one of these skills.
- Make it look cool. Whether you’re a dab hand at design or you have a few quid to spare, making your CV memorable (for the right reasons) is bound to get you noticed. Here’s a great Pinterest board of creative CVs.
- Dabble with the format. A written version of your CV is always a must – but why not send along a video covering letter with it? Done well, these will make your application shine (though the cringe-potential is quite high here). Camera shy? Wideo is a great free tool for making animated online videos – why not try that?
3) Not taking a scattergun approach
Landing a job in PR is not a numbers game. Firing out your CV to a hundred different agencies is unlikely to produce the results you hoped for. Make a list of 10 PR agencies you really like the look of. Then for each write down the answers to the following questions:
- What type of PR do they do? (Consumer? Healthcare? B2B? Third sector?)
- What services do they offer? (Media relations? Social media? Crisis comms?)
- What’s your favourite example of their work on their website and why?
Then make sure that everything you say – whether in your covering letter, CV or interview – is tailored to fit.
If you really want to impress any potential employer, take a look at their clients, do some research and come up with some ideas of your own for them. Even if they’re a bit off-the-mark, showing that you have initiative and can be creative might just land you that dream job.
Happy job hunting!