It is good to know what career prospects are available before you graduate from university. But once you have graduated, what is next? With the job market being as temperamental as it is, you need a plan of action that will assist you landing that dream job in PR.
Throughout your degree, you will have learned how to write a press release, how to connect with the media, how to handle a crisis. You may have even had some hands-on experience which will really help you. All you want to do now is put your skills to some use.
A lot of PR graduates assume that they will get a job at a PR firm, but that isn’t always the case. There are many different roles and types of companies you can work for. The important thing is to not stick to one thing, and start a job search with an open mind.
It is nice to have all the information in one place, so that is exactly what I am going to do in this post.
- Work for an agency. – Getting hired at a PR agency is a golden ticket. Or many people think that way. For others, they find out the hard way, initially thinking that working at an agency is glamourous, but it is in actual fact, an extremely stressful job. Working for an agency means you will be thrown into the fast-paced world of making clients look good. The clients will cover many different industries, from politics to finance and entertainment to construction. To begin with, you will probably be writing press releases and doing administrative work but your workload will grow as your experience grows, and you will start to deal with media relations or managing accounts. The problem is, with many agencies, they want you to already have experience. The best way to do this is to carry out an internship, as this gets your foot in the door. Working at an agency will give you the experience you need to do just about anything else you want to do. If you make an effort to connect to people, you will build the contacts you need to see you into your next role, even it if it is at another agency.
- Work in-house. – If you have put working for an agency on a pedestal, consider the PR staff of in-house as unsung heroes. Many companies don’t hire external PR firms, and instead they have an in-house team internally. Either way, there are plenty of in-house PR jobs going. However, the PR in-house team work for one industry, such as manufacturing or technology. If you are personally interested in a specific industry, then it is great to work in-house. Depending on the size of the firm and the amount of people that work for the company will depend on what work you do. Either way, you will get to know the company’s products and services well, as they are the centre of all your communications. You’ll probably do the same work you’d do at an agency: write and distribute press releases, work with the media and manage crises. If you work with a small team, you may also have additional responsibilities such as making newsletters and managing social media. Different companies will look for different things based on the business and the role, but they don’t normally expect as much as an agency does. You degree, skills and writing ability are usually the areas of focus. Some companies may want you to have experience with particular systems, but it all depends on the company.
- Start your own firm or freelance. – No one says it is easy to do this straight out of finishing your degree, but some PR professionals have done it in the past. Doing this will give you the freedom to focus on the type of clients you want, and you can pick and choose your projects. Being your own boss can sound brilliant, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. You need experience in order to understand client relationships. As the owner or freelancer, you will be responsible for finding new clients, and you won’t get a paycheck unless you get paid. If you stick with it, your business has the potential to thrive so much that you could afford to hire other people to help. But do keep in mind that doing so sometimes can take away what you love doing the most: the actual PR. Many business owners don’t realise they will be doing more admin work than hands-on work in their businesses.
I’d also like to share some tips on finding your first PR job. You need to look for jobs that don’t require much more than a degree and interest, if that is all you have. If you have experience or more, then you can widen your search and the jobs requirements.
There are websites that are for any job in any industry, which it may be worth looking at, but there are also websites that focus on jobs in PR and communications.
You can also use social media to find your first job. There are many hashtags you can follow that will give you a stream of new openings, with the main one being #PRjobs (even if you aren’t looking for a job it is still worth monitoring to see the range of jobs that are out there.
If you are about to graduate, then I wish you the best of luck in the job search, and I hope we get to PR together one day.