When you think of PR, you might have thoughts of Samantha from Sex & the City. Her job in the TV series was in public relations but had you thought about what that actually meant? It looked great. She seemed to spend all her time socializing and attending various glamourous events – she even met that hunk of hers representing him as a PR specialist. Sounds like a great job to me!
But What is PR?
PR, or public relations is the way organisations, companies and individuals communicate with the public and the media. PR specialists communicate with targeted audiences through various media platforms to create and maintain a positive image, in an effort to build a strong relationship with the intended audience.
PR roles can involve writing press releases and newsletters, managing public perception at public events and using online tools such as blog posts and social media to make contacts and influence people. It’s fair to say that you have to have strong communication skills.
In a competitive business world, there is constant demand to win new customers and to retain existing ones. Businesses need to stand out from their competitors but retain a positive image.
To businesses, a positive image is everything. For this reason good public relations are crucial to create and maintain that good reputation with the media and customers.
A PR specialist’s job is essentially communicating on a business’ behalf, presenting their products, services and what they do in the best light possible. The hope is that a positive image creates a strong relationship with customers, ultimately resulting in sales.
Think about some of the biggest scandals of recent years and how quickly they were covered over or not heard about again – this is the work of PR specialists.
Is PR for You?
Working in the public relations sector can be a very rewarding career choice, offering endless opportunities across all kinds of business sectors. The job certainly has its perks and generous salaries.
Like Samantha in Sex & The City, many PR positions will see you working closely with high profile clients, celebrities and socialising at champagne-laden events. However, it is not all glitz and glamour!
PR specialists can expect to work late and anti-social hours, especially if there is a big PR disaster or event that needs significant attention. It demands a lot of hard work but if it is something you can become passionate about then I guess it doesn’t really feel much like work.
If you have an interest in communications and are savvy with social media this could be right up your street.
That all sounds great, but how do I get a job in PR?
Research the Sector
It’s essential you research the area you want to enter into within the PR sector as each area varies greatly in the daily running tasks of the role and may shape how future opportunities pan out.
For example, if you feel a PR career in an NGO (Non- Governmental Organisation) would fit your personality; find out as much information as you can on the processes and required skills within that chosen sector. This will put you a cut above the other competitors.
A good tip is to look at what the current public relations team is doing with that company – look at previous coverage they have published. This may be found online, in newspapers or magazines. This shows initiative, diligence and determination, as well as essential interest in their company.
You could also keep up to date with the latest news and coverage by setting up Google Alerts for certain keywords. Every time Google caches new data, a notification alerts you, showing details immediately – whether for new blog postings, brand names or news.
Public Relations Internships
Getting your first job in public relations may be difficult to secure due to the competition for entry-level jobs in the current climate of the UK employment market.
Improve your prospects and enhance your resume by gaining some vital work experience in a local PR company. This ‘hands on’ experience is exactly what impresses employers. It shows dedication and passion for the role.
Public relations internships are quite readily found and are often offered by PR companies as it means paying a lower salary.
The best way to nab yourself a placement is to write a well written covering letter to one or more companies, asking if there many be any public relations internships available.
Explain your current situation and your desire to further your knowledge and to gain experience in the public relations sector. Ensure you don’t only talk about what they could do for you though, put an emphasis on what you could bring to their organisation.
Often these internships can lead to full-time employment.
Start Searching For Public Relation Jobs
Use the Internet to find your job in PR. There are so many job sites out there, but many are full of spam. Locating the useful ones can be a huge undertaking.
A good tip is to search job boards that specialise in public relation careers. Aside from listing current vacancies, they have everything PR related such as blog posts and forums, providing a treasure trove of industry related information.
In the UK, The Guardian PR jobs board is a good resource - https://jobs.theguardian.com/jobs/pr/. As it costs businesses quite a lot to post ads there is no spam, only reputable companies posting.
The PR Week job board is another great site, with excellent industry news and useful careers advice. http://www.prweekjobs.co.uk/.
PR Moment is an independent job board http://www.prmoment.com/ with extensive news and coverage on the latest PR and communications jobs.
Marketing Week https://www.marketingweek.com/ is also very popular and worth a look.
Some PR companies, however, prefer to advertise locally and do not use job websites to advertise. Look at the Hollis PR directory. It gives an updated list of PR agencies in the UK. Go through each company’s website in their careers section for the latest PR job opportunities.
Other options are to visit PR recruitment agencies, which may charge a fee or offer temporary jobs. This may, however suit your current situation.
What Qualifications Do I Need to Work in PR?
Employers recommend having relevant experience before applying for your PR job, perhaps through a public relations internship. They also look for strong communication and interpersonal skills.
Most of those working in the PR industry have a degree or higher diploma in communications, advertising, journalism or public relations before entry into their careers. Others may have worked in print or online journalism.
Similar courses or experience in new media, marketing, social media, SEO knowledge and creative writing can all strengthen your resume. So brush up on your writing and new media knowledge now.
A formal education is not always essential, but it is an advantage, giving you the competitive edge against other applicants, at least on paper.
Employers may also seek individuals with specialised skills relating to a particular area within a business such as health, information technology, engineering, science or finance.
Important qualities sought by employers are creativity, good decision-making and problem-solving abilities. If you have research experience, persuasive and good communication skills, then you are equipped with some of the fundamental qualities sought.
The official government careers website, www.prospects.ac.uk/ has a lot of information on how to get a job in PR and public relations internships. It also has links to colleges and universities that may be of use.
Here at Oxford Learning College we offer a number of accredited distance learning courses, which can be done in your free time, perhaps whilst gaining the hands on part of your education during your public relations internship.
Our Diploma in Journalism is a popular option for those seeking a career in PR. They also offer a Level 5 Diplomas in Marketing, Media and Advertising, which is an ideal stepping stone to achieving your first entry-level job in public relations.
Your Career in PR
If you do decide to pursue public relations and work towards a successful career in the industry, it is an industry that provides a wide range of opportunities and options. If you are dedicated and work hard, this can be an exciting and well-paid career option.