So, you want to work in PR...?
By Danny Ward
While researching to see what had previously been written about joining the PR industry, I noticed many clichéd statements. These focused on the long working hours and fierce competition for jobs that you can expect to face.
Really, I think those in other industries would say much the same about their jobs. These are generic and definitely not exclusive to PR. What seems to be missing is a bit of practical advice, which would give those starting out a taster of what they can expect in their first role. Having worked full-time in tech PR for around 8 months now, I’m still learning. But here are a few pointers I’ve picked up so far.
You may be fresh out of university, thinking that you’ve mastered the art of the written word after the countless number of essays submitted during your time as a student. Writing an essay for a lecturer is completely different to what you will be expected to produce in the working world though.
You could be tasked with writing a press release, an opinion piece, a blog or even a social media post – each one demands a different approach. But as a general rule, you’ll be encouraged to get to the point. Those grandiose words used to impress in the sphere of academia are likely to be shunned in favour of plain speech. Don’t panic if you don’t grasp the change in writing style right away – it’s something you’ll hone with time and experience.
You’ve got mail
I’d go as far as to say that even crafting an email pitch for a journalist is its own artform. Chances are they will be receiving hundreds of emails per day and aren’t likely to scroll through a wall of text. Careful choice of language, so the pitch is made personal for each publication you’re sending to, could be the difference between them replying and pressing delete.
Including their name, rather than making it generic, and ensuring your main points are clearly and concisely written at the start of the message are at the top of my checklist for this task.
Variety – the spice of life
There is no typical working day within a PR agency. Each one is different to the next in terms of what you might be doing. It’s likely that you’ll be working for several clients, handling various aspects of the account. You could be planning out an upcoming campaign, pitching to the press or working on social media profiles. And there are always events to attend – whether it’s breakfast networking or a meeting with a client, our calendar looks different every week. It’s the variety of the job that is often most exciting.
Fountain of knowledge
In any job, personal development is really important. In PR, while you can certainly learn plenty on the job, it’s worth taking advantage of opportunities to improve your knowledge of the industry. This is most likely to be improved through asking senior colleagues for advice, but also through taking part in accredited training programmes from the likes of the PRCA and CIPR. These courses will provide you with insights from industry leaders. Learning is an ongoing process, so you’re setting yourself up for success if you put extra time aside to strengthen your skillset.
Getting a foot in the door
While it’s true that there is plenty of competition for jobs, gaining work experience or doing an internship will give you a valuable insight into the industry and allow you to show off your skills to a potential employer. Rather than thinking that it’s simply another line to add to your CV, treat it as an opportunity to leave an impression. Take full advantage by making yourself available for all tasks. Even if the company doesn’t currently have a full-time position to offer you, the eagerness you show will put you front of mind when one does come up.
To hear more about the benefits of an internship in the PR industry, why not have a read of Chloe’s blog?
Danny is an Account Manager in the Manchester office