Regardless of where you are in your college journey, consider an industry with longevity – public relations in a health care setting.
To get ahead in public relations – and in any discipline – the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-09 suggests combining a degree in public relations or another communications-related field with a PR internship or similar work experience. Furthermore, the handbook states, “although employment is projected to grow faster than average, competition is expected for entry-level jobs.
Two trends seem to signal opportunities for those who want to get started in PR: the demand for savvy communicators and the growing number of baby boomers who will fuel the future demand for health care services. Take advantage of this healthy o outlook, and look for hands-on PR opportunities in the health care industry.
College student Erica Dean, 220, knew that gaining experience in the now would provide marketable experience down the road. As a junior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Erica volunteered for the PR/Marketing department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
Later, Erica took the volunteer post one step further and applied for and received an internship where she earned college credit. “Through my experience, I have learned that hospitals or any other health care facility are great places to work,” says Erica, a communications major. Erica says she is gaining hands-on expertise as she interviews employees, takes photos and writes press releases. “All of these skills will be useful during college and after as well,” she adds.
If volunteering for a hospital or medical center is not your thing, consider using your PR skills to help a cause-related event. Fundraisers know that the key to a successful event is publicity. You have the skills that can help organizations raise money for an important health-related cause. In addition, any strategic alliances you may make on behalf of a charity may help expand your network and advance your career.
Consider your coursework. Typically, PR students have opportunities to take campaign classes where students work alongside members of the business community to solve PR challenges. Use this experience to build professional relationships and explore your interests.
While a campaign class may provide a broad introduction to a business or a non-profit organization, tap into your local community to seek out individuals with ties to the health care industry. Typically, people who work in health care communications or fundraising are involved in community groups such as chambers of commerce or civic organizations. On a personal level, you may know a nurse, an EMT or a dietitian. Explore those connections, ask questions and extend your search.
You may be well on your way toward completing your PR coursework but have you gained industry experience through a hands-on opportunity? For a new grad or a soon-to-be-senior, an internship or volunteer experience is a must. And since you have many opportunities to explore, why not consider an industry with a very healthy future.
Learn more here: The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Modern Healthcare magazine.
(Kudos to Christina Trinchero for what she tells me is her first ever blog post. Glad it was here. Christina is a 11-year veteran of health care PR/communications and she currently serves as Senior Director of Marketing Communications at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Western Massachusetts. She generously provides the following email address for networking opportunities: firstname.lastname@example.org).
One thought on “Getting Started in Health Care PR”
‘College student Erica Dean, 20’: that’s the most amazing tribute of all to the miraculous work of the healthcare industry.