The world of PR is a competitive one. With employment of public relations specialists projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations, more and more people are looking to pursue a career in the field.
Having recently graduated from college less than a year ago, I remember the stress and uncertainty that followed. Hours of research, countless job applications, nerve-wracking interviews; they were all a part of the process. To stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of landing your dream PR job, here are four tips for young PR professionals who are looking to break into the industry:
1. Gain experience through an internship
While employers take many factors into consideration and evaluate applicants’ skills as a whole, there is one thing they all take a close look at—experience. There is nothing more valuable than having real hands-on experience, and this applies to any job really, not just one in PR. Attending college and doing well academically is a great start, but gaining professional experience through an internship of some kind is a guaranteed way to make your application stand out a little above the rest.
I strongly recommend young PR professionals to start looking at internships while they are still in college or even right after graduation. There are a number of ways a person can go about finding an internship that is right for them. Job search websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter and SimplyHired are all great options. Not only do they provide job listings, but internship opportunities as well. Most colleges and universities will also have some kind of internship program or website specifically dedicated for students, and this is always worth taking a look at. Finding an internship is all about doing a little bit of research.
2. It’s not just what you know, it’s also who you know
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I am sure we have all heard this saying at one point. While having the necessary skills, knowledge and experience are all vital components of encountering success in the PR industry, the people you meet and the connections you make will play just as important of a role.
Having someone who is more established in the PR industry with years of experience under their belt is beneficial in a multitude of ways. More likely than not, internship and job opportunities will arise and they will know about them. Professors are always looking for students to fill these roles and give recommendations to. Making your presence known by being involved and participative, assisting with research and joining the clubs and organizations that your professors are a part of, are all great ways to increase the chances of your name coming to your professor’s mind when asked if there is anyone they know who is interested in the opportunity that is being presented.
Certain PR organizations for students like PRSSA (The Public Relations Student Society of America), host a wide range of networking events and mini conferences for students to sign up for and attend. Joining relevant organizations such as this one, is another foul-proof way to meet industry professionals who can be of assistance to you and your PR career in the future. Having a trusted and reputable voice vouching for you will significantly improve your chances of being hired and securing the PR job you have always wanted.
3. Perfect your writing skills
If there is one skill you should brush up on, it’s your writing. With pitching and press releases being a central part of any career in PR, perfecting your writing style (grammar, punctuation and spelling included), is crucial to landing your dream job.
Possessing strong writing skills will not only help you in the hiring process, as the level of your writing will be evident in your resume, but it will also help you succeed at the job once you have secured it.
In order to do well in your PR career, trust needs to be built. Small writing mistakes may seem unimportant or insignificant, but over time, they can shatter the trust between employer and employee. Employers need to feel confident enough that whoever they hire has the necessary knowledge and understanding of style and grammar to accurately deliver a message. If your writing skills are not up to par with an employer’s expectations, the outcome will not be a positive one. Strong writing capabilities are an asset all PR companies and agencies look for.
4. Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it
There is no denying that change can be scary. Leaving behind what you know and entering a new stage in life can bring feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Pushing the fear aside and embracing change, however, will make the transition into your new PR career that much easier.
Set yourself up for success by going into everything you do with confidence. Realize that it’s a learning process and with time, the right guidance and the right mentality, you will get to where you need to be. After all, everyone has to start from somewhere.
I encourage every young PR professional to seek a teacher or mentor who can facilitate their transition into the world of PR. Give yourself the right tools and resources because ultimately, this is what will help you grow and advance in your career.
Lastly, remember that it’s okay to fail. Failure is inevitable. It comes with change and we all experience it one way or another. Choose to deal with it in a constructive manner and use it as a way to improve. Doing so will ensure that the failure is never permanent.