How to Land a Job in Public Relations

Getting a job in public relations has always been competitive. However, in today's strained economic climate, it seems to be harder than ever to bag your dream job in PR.

Whether you're just out of school or university, or you're looking for a career change, here's a quick guide on how to get a job in public relations.

The right qualities and experience

If you're even remotely considering a career in PR, start by looking at some job vacancies. These will usually list the essential and desirable qualities expected of a candidate, so you'll have some idea of what you need to work towards. For instance, some companies may specify a relevant degree so if you're still at school, consider applying for a university course in journalism, marketing or communications, which will help you hone the skills you need to work in PR. If you've already completed a degree or have done several years in another industry, concentrate on how your existing experience has given you the right skills for the public relations industry.

The most important thing about working in public relations is communication. This means you'll have to be comfortable talking to new people all the time - on the phone, in person and online - if you want to stand a chance of success. Communicating well with journalists is the key to doing a good job in PR, but journalists are unlikely to have much time to hear what you have to say. So focus on being succinct but informative, so you can tell potential employers that you know how to get a message across quickly and effectively.

To build up experience of working in PR, you might have to do work experience or an internship. Often, these are unpaid but longer placements may offer some remuneration for travel costs and basic expenses. If you can't afford to work unpaid for long periods, look for opportunities at your school or university to do basic PR. For instance, offer your services to the director of an amateur play and drum up interest in the production in the local press and student newspaper. When packaged in the right way, this all counts as legitimate PR experience.

Looking for a job

When you're ready to apply for a job, it's time to narrow down your search. For instance, do you want to work in-house or at an agency? Perhaps you'd like to work in public relations in Scotland instead of London, or you'd like to focus on technology PR rather than entertainment. If it's your first job in PR, you're unlikely to find exactly what you're looking for but by keeping your main goals in mind, you'll soon be able to move into the sector of your choice.

Finally, remember to build your online profile so employers can learn more about you. Tools like Twitter and LinkedIn are a great way to virtually network with people in PR and show them you know what you're talking about.

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