The key word in public relations is “relations”, and it’s amazing how many fresh graduates are forgetting that when they apply for their first PR job. They may have the credentials, but they don’t go the extra mile to prove that they are good at communicating in every aspect of their professional life. To stand out from the hundreds of applicants like these, you should build concrete proof that you truly understand what public relations is all about. These three things are a great way to start:
#1 – Reach out to someone in the company.
It won’t hurt to look for a possible acquaintance or connection in the company who can help introduce you to the person doing the hiring, or to the supervisor or boss you’ll be working with when you start.
Introduce yourself as someone who is interested in working for the company, and offer to buy them coffee near the office so you can spend 15-minutes getting to know their needs better and to see if you’re a good fit. If they agree, make sure you don’t waste that 15-minutes and ask for the concrete, measurable tasks involved in the position you’ll be applying for.
After the meeting is done, don’t forget to follow up. Email them to thank them for their time, and let them know how much you enjoyed or appreciated talking to them about the company. Be as specific as possible about the pointers you appreciated.
A week or two later, you can email them a link to a blog post, article, or study that they might have overlooked but was relevant to your discussion. Tell them that they don’t need to respond – you genuinely just wanted to share it.
This step gets your foot in the door without being sleazy. You are sincerely doing additional research on the company to see what your possible contributions might be and if you’d be a good fit.
#2 – Quantify your expertise with new media.
According to iPressroom’s Digital Readiness Report, PR and marketing decision makers in companies are looking for applicants with social media experience. Eighty-percent of those surveyed stated that social networking knowledge was important, and seventy-seven percent stated that knowledge of blogging and podcasting was also important. Other new media expertise that these decision makers are looking for include SEO (search engine optimization), email outreach, and web content management. Reading about these subjects or getting training in them isn’t enough, however.
To stand out from other applicants with new media knowledge, it’s best to quantify your knowledge using numbers. Did you develop a Facebook page during your internship and increased the company’s number of “Likes”? Did you send out weekly email newsletter content for any organizations or businesses and, more importantly, see readership improve as a result? Don’t just find out these numbers, include them in relevant entries in your resume. This way, you’ve made it more concrete and results-oriented. Future employers are not as excited about the knowledge in your head as they are about the results you can get.
#3 – Polish your resume based on the company and position.
Want to know why many job applicants are having a hard time getting hired? It’s not just about the economy. Odds are, they send out hundreds of copies of the same resume, regardless of the company or position they are applying for. By tailoring your resume to suit the company, you’re showing them that you’re an exact fit for their needs.
These steps may seem time consuming, so apply only to the top tier companies or positions that you want. It’s more strategic to apply for a handful of positions or companies you like and devote 100% of your effort into your application, rather than mass-submitting resumes. Not only will you emerge as a superior applicant amongst a pool of average ones, but you also prove that you are indeed fit for PR work. After all, you’ve just successfully executed a small PR campaign for your #1 client – you.
Spencer Holt is an advertising and marketing copywriter from New York. He spends his time coaching college students on how to apply the jobs they want after they graduate. He writes for Degree Jungle online college rankings, which provides information about online universities.