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The First Steps To A Job In PR

The First Steps To A Job In PRWant to get a job in PR? Of course you do! A young go-getter like you is just what this industry needs! Of course, everyone needs a leg-up to their first job, and that’s why I’m here – to give you some oh-so-valuable tips that will have you talking about “reputation management” and other such things like a pro.

Read widely and stay up to date

This is as true for PR as it is literally any industry. If you want to do well in it you need to keep up with the latest news in the field. Check out the best trade publications, such as Campaign and PR Week, as well as websites and blogs that are being written out there.  Keeping up with the latest gossip will put you ahead of the curve and will be boon during interviews, when interviewers will be impressed if you can demonstrate you know what’s going on in the industry and how it works.

Talk and talk and talk

It’s not called Public Keep Yourself to Yourself is it? This is a job for communicators, so communicate. Perhaps more than any other skill PRs need to be able to meet a bunch of people for the first time and immediately get comfortable talking to them. Go to parties where you don’t know many people and see how many conversations you can strike up with strangers. Go on blind dates. Anything that helps break down any walls of insecurity you’ve got going on.

That practice is going to come in handy when you’re talking to a journalist who’s skeptical about the product you’re representing. Of course it’s also going to come in handy when you…

Network like a networking thing
Networking is the bread and butter of being a PR. You network to get the job you want. You network to do the job you want. In the age of Facebook and Twitter half of what we all do is networking anyway, so this becomes all about learning how to target your networking. Find which people you want to talk to and what you want to talk to them about. Go to industry events where you’re likely to get a chance to chat with them. At the same time, continue talking any random so-and-so who wants to, some of the best jobs I ever got were through being in the right pub at the right time.
Yes, networking can feel awkward- nobody likes the feeling that they might be being insincere or talking to somebody just to get something out of them, but you can get a long way just by getting onto natural conversations on subjects you know and care about.
Your portfolio isn’t the same thing as your life story
Your portfolio tells people who you are, what you can do and where your skills lie. That means it needs to be curated to create the image you want prospective employers or clients to see. Don’t put everything in there, just pick out work from four or five key projects that show your strengths while also demonstrating some diversity. Where possible the work should tell a story- showing a campaign from beginning to end, for example.

Finally, keep an eye out for PR graduate schemes or paid internships (unpaid internships are worth exactly what they pay you), as these can give you a valuable leg-up when you’re starting out.

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Sam Wright is a freelance writer who works with several marketing and PR companies.

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