Factors to Consider in PR Career Choice?


Q.   I am the mother of a soon-to-be high school senior who currently thinks he wants to major in mass communications/PR when he goes to college next year.  My husband and I are in financial jobs, and don’t know enough about PR to effectively discuss our son’s career choice with him.  Suggestions?  Thank you.  -EB

A.  I’m prejudiced, of course, but let me assure you that your son can enjoy a rewarding career in public relations.  While tough to land a job in PR or elsewhere these days, opportunities should be far more plentiful when he graduates in five years.   It is wise for you and your son to know what’s involved to succeed in PR.  This will allow him to start doing things now, like relevant volunteer work, that will help build his PR credentials. 

You should read “What is Public Relations?” on How Stuff Works.com.  It features several “chapters” of basic information about the profession.  

One of my favorite websites is eHow.com, which provides practical step-by-step tips on how to do just about everything–including what’s required to become successful in PR.  Check out the entire eHow post, but here’s a snapshot summary of key tips: 

Education: Major in public relations, journalism, marketing, business, communications or English.

Writing: Excellent writing skills required.

Working the Telephone: You must be able to effectively communicate by phone, which is where you spend a large part of your day.

Persistence is Key: You must have the ability to follow up even if you think you’re being a pest. 

Starting out: Usually the entry level position in public relations firms is via an internship, admin or account assistant position.

Build a portfolio.  Writing samples are essential, especially press releases. (Previous Culpwrit posts discuss portfolio development).  Gain experience wherever possible. Hiring managers love to hear of successful story placements in the media.

Education and experience are key. Volunteer, take classes, get a degree and show that you’re truly interested in the profession. 

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