The main worry most students harbor about leaving school involves whether or not they can find a job right away. If there are student loans and bills to pay, then the need to find a job becomes even more urgent. However, along with finding any job, students should also focus on what to expect when entering the working world and how to do what they studied when the time comes to show their true colors.
If you’re a PR professionals just entering the workforce or a veteran in the field here are a few tips…
Secure Internships Before or Right After Leaving School
Big and boutique firms alike provide internship programs for students looking for work in PR. PR firms often make internships available even for PR-hopefuls with no PR academic history.
Use internships to gain experience to complement a resume and boost CVs. Internships also help PR professionals decide what sector or field of PR fits them, such as, content management, events planning, social media handling, or writing speeches.
Build Networks by Building Relationships
As the name suggests, public relations is about building relationships with the right people, at the right time, in the right areas. These connections help professionals get ahead in the present, but may continue providing new opportunities in the future.
Always keep in mind the intern sitting two desks away, could very well become the account manager or VP at your firm twenty years from now.
Prepare for the Downside of not Having a 9 to 5
While some public relations agencies operate as 9-5 businesses on paper, in practice PR experts remain on call all day, every day. Crisis can happen at any moment, and when it does, clients need to know the people they hire to handle it start right away. Expect to lose some weekends and holidays working on campaigns, managing events, and cleaning up bad press.
Keep Your Ears to the Ground
Native Indians did this years ago listening for approaching dangers. Today, public relations specialists track incoming danger through the media.
If a business in the same industry as a client falls into crisis, the firm’s client may follow suit. Sometimes one company failing in a field paints other companies a dirty color, as well. Keeping an ear to the ground keeps PR experts aware of trends and pop culture, making them a proactive contributor to the team.
Become Comfortable with making Tough Decisions in a Split Second
Sometimes public relations experts get days and weeks, or even months of time ahead, to plan for a crisis or event. But, PR pros must prepare to make decisions on the spot too. This includes advising a client on what to say two minutes before a press conference, or deciding to pull a campaign the firm spent weeks on because of an unrelated incident making content ‘controversial’ or ‘insensitive.’
Develop the ability to use good judgment in a jiffy. And prepare yourself for the consequences when even good judgment fails to bring desired results.
Journalists are your Friends
It might not seem that way in the beginning, but having the right journalists in your corner helps build influence for clients. Simply knowing one willing to write for the firm and client is not enough. Many journalists later spin stories to continue scandals, or as excited as you need them to be about a product or service to help your client.
Build strong relationships with great journalists and bloggers, enjoy them when it works and continue the relationships when it doesn’t.