So, you’ve decided to get a job in PR, but you don’t know where to start. Getting onto the career ladder in the industry can be easy for some, tough for others. You might be a graduate looking for your first job, or you might be a seasoned journalist looking to cross to the other side. Either way, finding that first role can sometimes be very daunting.
Hopefully this two part guide will help to get you on your way.
What is PR?
Basic question, but depending on what you’ve been doing for the past three years, your definition will be different. For example if you’re a journalist it might be:
Those annoying people who call me at all hours of the day trying to sell in a story to me that i’m not interested about. They do seem to get paid better though…
Or if you’re a student/postgrad:
Communicating a set of key messages on behalf of a client to raise their awareness in the public domain
Both of these are true in their respective contexts. However, I like to define PR as (and i’m more than happy to debate this!):
Part of a brand’s overall communication and sales strategy, using a pull method, to engage with consumers
Whatever you wish to define PR as, make sure you know your reasons for thinking it is such so that you can explain with confidence what you believe PR to be. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, as such, on this one.
Do I need a PR degree?
In short, no. Many PR professionals have come in to the industry through different methods. Former colleagues have been hoiked over from sponsorship and sales, and one particularly brilliant Acount Director worked her way up from a receptionist role to be a pivotal part of the agency’s team. Just because you don’t have an academic background, doesn’t mean you have to rule yourself out, it just means you have to work that little bit harder.
Having a degree of sorts will of course help – be it English, Journalism, Media, Marketing or Maths, Social Sciences or Psychology – if you can demonstrate that you are willing to learn, retain information and develop yourself, half the battle will be won there and then.
This is the power of social media you see… my friend and former colleague Jem Bahaijoub (follow her on Twitter here, it’s worth it, Jem’s knowledge of PR, and music PR in particular, is overwhelming!) lovingly pointed out that:
@geetarchurchy Great piece. Bear in mind that in the US, PR qualifications are highly regarded and sometimes a necessity for a job. x
…which I hadn’t taken into account! SO if you’re in the US, the answer to this question may very well be yes, yes you do!
**END OF UPDATE**
Where should I look?
For someone who is looking for a job in PR, actually finding one is quite easy, you just need to know where to look. The PR Week Job section would be the most obvious place to start. This has a multitude of employment opportunities from Intern roles, to Directorships, to CEO level positions. I’d recommend you stray away from CEO and Directorships for the time being…
What about being a bit 2.0 about the whole thing and look on Twitter or facebook? There are a few really good PR groups to join on our favourite social network, and a heck of a lot of PR people on Twitter itself.
Think about the current economic climate for a second. At the moment, the UK PR Industry is suffering from a lack of Account Managers (two steps or so above Account Executive). Many AM’s are going freelance, persuing other interests or going in-house. This means agencies are promoting from within to fill this mid-level role.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means that if Senior Acount Executives are being promoted to AM level, there should be budget within an agency to recruit a new AE or get an Intern on board. Now, an Intern is going to be cheaper to employ for 3 months than an AE, so why not look at getting some experience and look to make yourself indispensible whilst you’re there?
So the next step of course, is to find yourself that Intern or full time role to suit you.
In part 2 on Sunday, we’ll find that ideal role and look at what you need to do next.