Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Career in PR

By Luke Smith

The last two semesters of college have been unique, to say the least. But they are coming to end, and if your virtual commencement for Fall 2020/21 is looming, it’s time to jumpstart your PR job search. And it’s not a bad time for spring graduates to do the same.

When preparing for the start of your future in public relations, begin your research by finding which niche you’re passionate about. This will influence what you are willing to work hard for, and will tell you which skills you need to build on first. You will also want to make sure that you take any opportunities available to begin developing your professional network, and advance your skillset. Don’t wait until you’ve graduated to start.

Find What Excites You

An important part of finding a fulfilling career is making sure that it is something you are passionate about. A key part of this is ensuring that you know the difference between several similar positions. Public affairs and public relations, for example, are very similar, but their goals and focuses are much different.

Public affairs roles are concerned with non-corporate groups, like government agencies, or non-profits. Public relations specialists, however, usually bridge the gap between the public and an organization. When you are considering which path to take, think about what type of entity you want to promote and build relationships with.

Public relations and public affairs are both concerned with the emotional and psychological connection between the public and your client or organization. Some PR professionals even work with individuals and personal brands such as content creators or artists. Consider precisely what it is you want to do, and what it is you want to promote. Finding your passion can take you a long way in building the framework to advance your career.

Develop Skills and Connections

Once you know the direction you want your career path to take, focus your research on skills recruiters will be looking for. If you are in a university program, utilize the professors to focus your work, and ensure that you are preparing yourself for your particular path. You can also look for internship and networking opportunities that will help you find entry-level opportunities to start your career off properly.

Another way of making sure you are picking the right path is by talking with professionals already in the field. You can ask questions about what they wish they had known at the beginning of their careers, and what skills they look for when hiring early career professionals. By pursuing information from people who are already in your field, you can be sure that you are speaking with a reliable source.

Another benefit of reaching out to professors and professionals is that you can begin creating connections that may help you begin a successful career. Showing initiative and looking for opportunities can set you apart as self-sufficient and willing to put in work for your career. It can also help you prepare for entering the workforce, and preparing for job applications.

Build a Resume and Start Your Career

Being ready to jump into a career is more than just knowing your basics and meeting people. You will also need to make sure that you know how to represent yourself in applications and interviews. A key part of this is preparing your resume.

Resumes are usually the first impression that you will have on a hiring manager and your potential bosses. If you are lucky, some of your early networking experience will have left an impression as well, and you will be able to utilize your network to get feedback on your resume before submitting it. By building a resume that highlights the groundwork you have already done, you can make sure to set yourself and your skills apart from other applicants.

Another thing to consider when preparing for a new career is how to showcase yourself as an individual. Public relations is a very personal career, and being able to showcase your personal background can add to the company and the industry overall. When you are preparing your resume and getting ready for interviews, make sure to highlight personal details that can set you apart, whether they’re personal traits and background information or special skills that you have.

Starting a PR career can be intimidating, but finding one that you are passionate about is the first step in building a career that you truly love. You can back up this passion by researching best practices, basic skills that you will need, and how to represent yourself in the best light through your resume. By preparing yourself and investing in your training, you can catapult yourself into your next job, and your dream career.

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but PR and communications topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

2 thoughts on “Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Career in PR

  1. One additional tip to add that I wrote in an article a few years ago (excerpt below) – Keep Your Eye on the Long-term Prize

    If there is one thing that I consistently hear, it’s “I have this job offer, but it’s not in my field of study or what I really want to do.” While it’s OKAY to take a job that is not in your desired field (I get it – the lure of a full-time job is enticing after graduation), here are a few points to consider while keeping your eye on “your” long-term prize for your career – and life:

    1. When you start a new job, have a plan for how you will stay focused on your long-term goal. For example, if you are interested in communications, but have a job in sales or customer service, focus on the transferrable skills and learnings that you can take to your next job that will be beneficial long-term.

    2. Explore online courses, seminars, podcasts and read relevant books or case studies.

    3. If you work at a large company with multiple divisions, ask about rotation opportunities that will expose you to different areas of the business.

    Many people may not quite know what they want to do and take a job so they can get a paycheck. That is okay too, BUT, keep thinking about your plan and pay close attention to the things about your current job that do interest you.

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