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5 tips for starting a career in PR
If you want to manage a company’s reputation and influence consumer behaviour then working in public relations (PR) is the role for you
It’s important for all businesses to have a strong public image and as a result those wanting to work in PR are in demand. However, being seen as an attractive and exciting career means that there is often tough competition for PR roles so you’ll need to make sure that you stand out.
Know why you want to work in PR
Trevor Palmer, director at PR agency Tank, warns that applicants to his company are not always prepared for their first role.
‘I’ve lost count of the number of blanket emails I receive, addressed to nobody and without a scrap of knowledge about my business or the industry. Some even state that they ‘may’ wish to work in PR,’ says Trevor.
Therefore, it’s important to target your application to the company that you’re applying to, have a clear idea about why you want to work in PR in the first place and be ready to demonstrate your passion.
Showcasing your personality is another crucial part of any application, says Sarah Schofield of specialist creative comms agency Tangerine. ‘The industry is competitive and nobody expects you to know everything about PR when you first start out,’ she says. ‘When we meet applicants, we want to see their hunger and drive. We can train you to gain and improve the core skills, but we can’t teach you to have enthusiasm and passion for the industry.’
Learn how to write a CV and what makes an effective cover letter.
Have the right skills and attributes
A business’s online reputation is of paramount importance but while being internet savvy is essential for any PR role, this shouldn’t come at the expense of traditional PR skills.
‘Great reputation management is about understanding brands, creating strong media profiles and understanding what a good story looks like,’ says Trevor. ‘As SEO companies continue to flood into the PR market, I hope that these values remain a priority and are not side lined by digital competence – after all, one cannot now work without the other.
‘To that end, we tend to look for graduates who can communicate, with qualifications in English, history, philosophy and of course, a sound understanding of digital marketing.’
Your social profiles (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) are still an excellent way to connect with businesses and show that you are keeping up to date with the industry. Trevor notes that networking is a viable way to get the attention of PR agencies that you’re interested in working for. ‘Most people that come into the business come in via our network, which shows that they too are networked, which is important.’
Find out more about social media and job hunting.
Choose to study public relations
Studying for a PR degree is an excellent route into the industry and many joint PR and marketing/business courses offer an optional sandwich year to gain relevant work experience or undertake a year abroad.
If your degree is in a different subject or you just want to improve your knowledge then doing a Masters is a good idea.
One example is the MA Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations at Leeds University Business School, which focuses on modern corporate communications and how it relates to PR and marketing.
Another option is the full-time MA Public Relations at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. The course takes 15 months to complete and is approved by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Aimed at those already in the profession, as well as at graduates with good communication skills and degrees in other subjects (preferably a 2:1 or above).
Course leader Gareth Thompson explains, ‘A postgraduate course in PR explores reputation and communication in depth, allowing us to link theory with practice. The aim is to give practitioners of the future the confidence to tackle the increasingly complex organisational and communication challenges that they will confront in the workplace.’
To discover what Masters are available, search postgraduate public relations courses.
‘It may sound obvious but it’s important to be aware of what is happening in the news and trending online,’ says Sarah. Sites such as PRWeek and The Drum provide insights, research and news from within the industry.
‘We’re in an industry which is constantly evolving. In order to develop strategies for our clients that bridge the gap between digital marketing and traditional PR, it’s important to consume all media from newspapers to blogs, magazines to social channels. Some don’t see a divide between digital and traditional PR, so the campaigns we create need to exist across all platforms,’ explains Sarah.
As well as consuming media, working on building an online profile is advisable – this will be a valuable asset for showcasing your talents and ambitions.
By following agencies on their various profiles, you’ll keep up to date with current trends and the direction the industry is heading in. Through your research you can start to form your own opinions and think about the things you’d like to achieve in your career, which will help you demonstrate your passion for working in PR to employers in interviews.
Learn more about gaining media work experience.
Pursue your passion and career path
Gareth also says that studying for a qualification can provide the springboard to a varied and hugely rewarding career in PR, whatever your individual interests.
‘PR provides the opportunity to work across many sectors, or to specialise if you are interested in the arts, fashion, business, sport or working for a charity. Organisations in all these sectors need to talk to a range of audiences, to listen, to adapt, to share, to challenge, and to be part of the community in which they operate.’
As well as being able to communicate effectively to champion your company’s products and services, you’ll need drive and determination to succeed in this rapidly changing industry. ‘Public relations and reputation management are about helping to inspire organisations to get the best out of themselves,’ Gareth reveals.
You could work for a PR consultancy/agency or in-house for either a private, public or not-for-profit sector organisation. However, Gareth points out that upon completion of a Masters degree, most students go on to work in generalist and sector-specific communication agencies, as well as taking up a range of in-house roles.
He adds, ‘Other opportunities include entering management consultancy, project management or indeed setting up as freelancers and establishing their own PR consulting firms.’
Find out more
- Take a look at other marketing courses.
- Train on the job with a marketing apprenticeship.
- Gain a foothold in the industry with a marketing internship.
Extra Information About how to get into public relations That You May Find Interested
If the information we provide above is not enough, you may find more below here.
5 tips for starting a career in PR | Prospects.ac.uk
Is Public Relations the Right Career for You?
Seven Ways to Get a Job In PR, Even with No Experience
What Kind of Education or Experience Do You Need to Work …
How to Become a Public Relations Specialist | Monster.com
How to Break Into the Public Relations Industry – Culpwrit
An expert guide to getting a job in PR – The Guardian
How Do I Become a Public Relations Person? – Learn.org
Frequently Asked Questions About how to get into public relations
If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic how to get into public relations, then this section may help you solve it.
What qualifications do you need for public relations?
What skills does a Public Relations Officer need?
- Excellent communication, interpersonal and writing skills.
- Persistence and determination.
- Flexibility and willingness to learn.
- Ability to multitask and cope under pressure.
- Excellent organisational and time management skills.
- The ability to present.
How do I get into PR with no experience?
4 easy ways to gain PR experience (when you don’t have any)
- Treat Your Personal Brand Like it’s your Job. …
- Think of job descriptions as secret codes for skill-building. …
- Volunteer for Events You Care About. …
- Help local small businesses in your area.
Is it hard to get into public relations?
Public relations is a highly competitive field and a degree is pretty much a must. While English, journalism and communications majors often make the leap to PR, if you know you want to go into public relations, you’re better off enrolling in a more targeted public relations degree program.
Does PR pay well?
In May 2021, the median annual salary for public relations professionals was 2,800.
Is it possible to work in PR without a degree?
PR is undoubtedly one of those careers where you can easily learn more with hands-on experience than in 4 years of late-night study sessions, and you can become a seasoned PR Professional without the degree on your resume.
What are the 3 main roles of PR?
Public relations’ main objectives are to improve the company’s prestige, present a positive image, and create, maintain, and protect its reputation.
Is PR a suitable profession for introverts?
Concentrate on and play up your strengths. Introverts possess some of the most important traits for careers in communications and public relations, including the ability to listen intently and to forge meaningful connections.
Do introverts work in PR?
You can still succeed in PR. You don’t have to love the spotlight to have a great comms career. Many assume the stereotypical PR person is outgoing, social and on their third cup of coffee by opening bell.
Does math have a place in public relations?
Almost no math is required for jobs in writing, publishing, public relations, advertising, and communications.
Is a PR degree worth it?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in the media and communications sector are expected to experience a 4% job growth over the next few years, and careers related to public relations are expected to experience an even higher increase in career growth. For many students, a public relations degree is therefore worthwhile.
Is working in public relations stressful?
Public relations, however, stands above many careers as one of the most stressful. This is due to the very nature of the job. PR professionals have to create relationships with the public. They also handle clients who often have unrealistic expectations and work in a field that is not understood by most people.
What is the length of a PR degree?
A bachelor’s degree in public relations usually takes about four years to complete.