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PR career guide: How to get started, required skills, and what to expect

by | Dec 20, 2022 | Public Relations

Starting a public relations career can be rewarding. But at the same time, it’s a challenging, highly competitive field.

If you’re thinking of a change in career or looking to enter the field of PR, this article provides information on the key steps you should take to launch your career.

Keep reading to find out more.

What does a PR professional do?

A PR professional is responsible for creating and managing communication strategies that build positive relationships between a company or individual and the public. They develop and execute effective communication plans, ranging from media relations to social media outreach.

A day in the life of a PR professional can involve writing press releases, managing media interviews, attending industry events, and networking with potential clients.

How to get started in a career in PR

Here are the rough steps you need to take to get started in a career in PR.

  • Get qualified: If you take the time to get qualified with a degree or diploma in PR, your chance will be better. The more knowledge and understanding you have of the industry, the higher the probability of success.
  • Work on your skillset: Make sure all your skills—from communication, networking, and problem-solving—are up to scratch before entering the field.
  • Start building connections: Networking is critical in public relations, so start building connections and relationships with people in the industry as soon as possible.
  • Look for internships & opportunities: Take advantage of any internships or opportunities that come your way, as this is a great way to gain experience and learn about how the PR world works.
  • Keep up with trends: Stay updated with the latest trends and changes in the PR industry.
  • Have patience & persevere: A career in public relations takes time to grow, so have patience and perseverance when facing challenges. It’s essential to stay motivated and never give up.

Let’s now consider the skills needed for a successful career in PR.

Skills needed to work in PR

Here are the top skills to develop as a new PR professional.

  • Communication

Good communication skills are essential when working in PR. You’ll need to be able to write clearly and concisely and be comfortable speaking with the media and other stakeholders.

Since this job involves communicating with different people, you’ll need to be able to tailor your message and adjust to diverse personalities.

  • Creativity

PR professionals are responsible for developing unique and exciting ways to promote their clients or companies. You must have a creative mindset when entering the PR industry.

A client might ask for something outside the box, or you might need to develop an innovative way to increase engagement. Creativity is vital—from creating Instagram brand captions that shine a positive light on the company to creating a PR campaign for an event, you might have to do it all.

With various AI text generators available, enhancing your creativity is easier than ever. These tools can help with multiple PR aspects that you may be struggling with and make writing easier.

  • Problem-solving

No matter how well-thought-out a plan may be, there will always be challenges in PR. You’ll need to be able to think quickly and navigate any problems that arise with level-headedness and composure.

Breaking a problem into smaller chunks and finding a solution is an invaluable skill in this arena.

  • Networking

Successful PR professionals are networking experts. Building connections and relationships with people in the industry, potential clients, and even journalists can be advantageous for your career.

It’s important to remember that networking isn’t just about finding new contacts or increasing your client list; it’s also about showing a genuine interest in those around you and responsibly managing any relationships that come from your conversations.

  • Organization

A PR career requires being organized. You’ll need to manage projects efficiently and juggle multiple tasks without becoming overwhelmed. Having excellent time management skills is essential for success as a PR professional.

A workforce software tool can help you stay organized and streamline your workflows. This type of tool helps you manage projects, deadlines, and tasks in a single system. It also provides an overview of the entire team’s workload and allows you to assign tasks easily and track progress.

  • Adaptability

The PR industry is constantly changing, so it’s essential to adapt quickly. Staying up to date with the latest trends and being willing to learn new skills can help you remain competitive in this ever-evolving field.

Consider that you might start off your working day writing press releases, then end up organizing a media event. You need to be able to adjust and handle situations quickly in PR.

Also, you might have to combine two distinct topics to create a unique idea for your client. For example, combining a press release about the latest Quest Games on Steam with a local charity event could make an exciting PR campaign.

You could go into greater detail in the press release about how game proceeds will support the charity and mention how gamers can get involved in the event.

Being adaptable and willing to learn can help you develop solutions that will make your clients or company stand out.

Qualifications for a career in PR

Education is essential in every field, and the public relations industry is no different. From having a communications degree to a postgraduate diploma in PR, you can gain qualifications that will help you stand out.

In addition, some specific public relations degrees can help you better understand the PR industry. You can also join professional organizations that help bridge the gap between academia and industry.

These will give you access to resources, networking events, and other job opportunities and help develop your skills further.

What to expect in the early years of a PR career

The early years of a PR career can be both exciting and challenging. You’ll likely be starting as an assistant, working under a more experienced PR professional. This is an excellent opportunity to learn and develop your skills.

You’ll likely be responsible for various tasks, such as conducting research, writing press releases, pitching stories to journalists, and managing social media accounts. It’s essential to be willing to take on any task that comes your way and to work hard.

Artificial intelligence can again help make your job easier; AI story generators can not only help with creating content but can also help you craft stories that will grab the attention of the media.

The early years of a PR career can also be an excellent opportunity to learn the ropes and develop your skills. With dedication and hard work, you can progress in your career and achieve success in this field.

Salary and career progression for PR professionals

The salary for PR professionals can vary depending on several factors, such as experience, education, and skillset. In general, however, the median salary for PR professionals is around $57,575 per year.

Career progression in the PR industry is possible with dedication and hard work. You can take several steps to progress in your career, such as becoming a member of professional organizations, taking courses and developing your skill set, and networking with others in the industry.

Moving up the PR career ladder is also possible with experience, so staying motivated and working hard is essential.

Advice for people who want to start a career in PR

In this final section, let’s consider two distinct types of people: a young person who wants to get started in PR and a mid-career looking to transition into PR.

For the young person, a good first step might be to pursue relevant educational opportunities or internships, as these will provide valuable experience and contacts. Networking with other professionals in the field can also help get your foot in the door. Additionally, studying PR best practices and strategies to refine one’s skills might be the person’s best bet.

For those transitioning from another career field, drawing attention to any transferable skills you bring from your previous role is key. Some aspects of one’s past job could be beneficial for a PR role – such as project management or writing—so make sure you highlight these skills when applying.

No matter where you start, the most critical advice for anyone looking to get into public relations is to stay open-minded and keep learning. The PR industry is constantly changing and evolving, so staying abreast of new trends and strategies is key to successfully transitioning into this field.

Conclusion

A PR career can be rewarding and challenging, but with dedication and hard work, it is possible to achieve success. Education, networking, and experience are all critical for progressing and gaining recognition as a PR professional.

While it’s impossible to know precisely what you’re getting into when embarking on a PR career, understanding the basics of the industry is critical for setting yourself up for success. Doing your research, staying open-minded, and learning from those who have gone before can help you make the most of your PR career.

So, if you’re looking to start a career in public relations, take the time to understand the industry, refine your skills and build meaningful connections—it will all be worth it in the end!

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Hanson Cheng
Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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