Different positions require different skill sets and experience, but all roles in PR require critical thinking, excellent written and verbal communications and an insatiable curiosity about the world around us.
Be connected, follow agency twitter handles, read their blogs, LinkedIn with their MDs and HR leaders, be sponge-like in your appetite to get to know potential employers.
Meet people. Network like your career depends upon it (it does). Be cheeky -the most important person in the room is often the most ignored one, because people are afraid to approach them. They really don’t bite (that often).
When interviewing, I’m looking for somebody who’s on top of the news agenda as well as current and emerging trends, who understands digital beyond simply using social media for personal reasons, who has a work ethic and a positive outlook.
Influencers have always been important. The right whisper into right ear always makes the difference in the world, but the difference now is that influencers operate at scale.
I always look for a genuine interest in communications, a knowledge of the media landscape (do they read a paper occasionally, can they talk about broadcast and online media?), strong writing skills, good attention to detail, the ability to be highly organised and having good manners.
If you have a placement or an interview don’t just say you are creative or hardworking, show it. Come in with some fully formed ideas for one or two of their clients to demonstrate that you can’t just do the graduate job but have potential to offer more as a long-term investment.
Always have a plan. Look at jobs that might be five years away and work hard to ensure you have the skills, experience and qualifications to get them in three. Keep track of all you’ve achieved – it helps on dark days and also when you need interview examples.
The great thing about today’s media – which wasn’t the case when I started out – is that you don’t have to wait for anyone to commission you to write a blog, make a film, record a song.
Engaging with potential employers on social media and showing you’re abreast of key issues is a great way to impress. Strong writing gives you natural stand out.
The most important skill that a comms practitioner needs is the ability to write strong, journalistic English. This is true regardless of whether you want to focus on media relations, social media, content marketing or internal comms, because writing is a building block for everything else.
Be brave and don’t be afraid to stick your head above the parapet – your opinion is just as valid as someone who has been in the business for a while.
Blogging is a valuable way to improve your writing skills, show industry knowledge, and discuss activities you’re getting involved with.
Networking is essential. Whether that is through joining an industry body to develop your knowledge and insight, or taking advantage of social media to build connections.
Create engaging content and make sure potential employers see it. The biggest challenge for PR employers is creative talent that “gets” and lives “engagement”.
Being aware of the conversation on key industry issues makes you much more compelling at interview. Following interesting players in the market helps form your own opinion and gives you insight into the culture of the places these people run.
Social media gives graduates the opportunity to engage directly with key influencers within the agency world. Use it to build your knowledge of the industry, and gain an understanding of the types of companies that are doing interesting work, and that you think you would like to work for.
I’m a firm believer of there being no such thing as work/life balance. It’s one life. In our world particularly, work and life has to come together, otherwise you are going to fight a sense of balance and not get ultimate satisfaction.
Don’t panic if you find yourself in the wrong place. All experience is useful and being in one job being able to look for another which fits you better beats not having a job.
In today’s PR world you should be able to film and edit and spot a good picture op, as well as write.
Fear of failure is a terrible thing and the sooner you get over it the sooner you’ll create good work.
Our digital footprint will forever stay there so if there is anything you do or say that would make a prospective employer embarrassed by having you as staff, don’t do it.
Be brave and if you don’t understand something, say so!
There’s no fun or kudos in making an already amazing brand famous – but if you can be part of building a brand, a reputation and a following from nothing, or turning round a dead-end account, that’s where you’ll really stand out.
First, create your own form of media whether words (blog), photos (Instagram) or video (YouTube); and second build a network and share your content with people in the business.
Invest time identifying those agencies or employers you are interested in and get involved in discussions with them.
It’s never been easier to find and read, watch, listen to or even chat to people that know what they’re talking about – take advantage of that.
You can reduce mistakes and increase your presence by starting your career with passion, curiosity and a genuine willingness to learn from the people around you.
Know as much about a number of vertical industries as you do about PR.
This is a people and relationship business and we are providing a service. Attitude is king.