Graduates - how to get ahead in PR
According to the Oxford Royale Academy, PR and media is the 13th most attractive career to Graduates. Many are attracted by the industry’s closeness to showbusiness and the potential to meet celebrities, however the reality can be a little different, but no less exciting.
So, as a PR agency that regularly recruits dynamic, ambitious Graduates, here we look at some of the key skills that you need to succeed in a career in PR and digital media?
- Ability to pick up the phone
It may sound like a basic skill, but with social media and email taking over many of our traditional forms of communication, some people have forgotten how to pick up the phone and make contact. With journalists this is still the best way to make contacts and secure a feature. Any staff member joining our team will be expected to build a rapport with journalists over the phone and to negotiate articles in on our client’s behalf. They would also be required to call up contacts within a client’s business and research case studies and industry news, so they can write about these in press releases and features. This requires being organised and having a set of relevant questions to hand whilst on the phone. If they have the ability to build a good, friendly phone rapport, they will find this removes many barriers and obstacles that emails cannot.
- Quick grasp of different industries
In our company, we work with a number of mainly business to business clients in key sectors such as construction and manufacturing. Any candidate coming into the business would need the ability to quickly grasp a subject and to be able to write a press release or article that gets across a message, without talking down to its audience, in a clear succinct way. What some people find difficult is grasping not just one but a whole lot of industries, as you could be working with eight or more clients at the same time. So you need to be able to retain what information is valuable, filter out anything that isn’t and also be constantly seeking new information about a client’s industry, from magazines or online that could provide interesting angles for stories. These topical industry articles can then be presented to editors as ‘thought leadership’ pieces, which, if secured, can mean 2-3 pages of valuable content within a magazine completely free of charge.
- Willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone
Often in PR you will be asked to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s meeting a celebrity and taking them around an event, climbing a kiln tower to look at cement production or giving a presentation about PR to a group of the client’s overseas agents, the candidate will need to be flexible and be prepared to step up to the mark. A good PR candidate represents their agency well at all times and, although confidence is something that you will build on during your career, a candidate has to be prepared to give 150% even when they may feel it is a completely alien environment.
- Know where you are at with clients’ work
One of the essential skills with PR agency work is knowing exactly where you are at with each client’s project or campaign at all times. This is something that every Graduate needs to master. At any moment a client or other contact may call and ask you about how a project is progressing, or wish to speak about a case study or article that you called them about a week ago. You need to be able to think quickly and adapt to the situation as quickly as possible, without floundering. We have status forms for each client, which every member of staff needs to update daily, giving information about where each project is at, which helps with this. However, the brain is much better than any excel spreadsheet and if you have the ability to retain information about each of the clients’ campaigns, this will stand you in good stead as an account handler and build trust with the client.
- Digital awareness and interest
These days, no PR account executive or graduate seeking a career in PR, can afford to ignore social media. Graduates need to be using, not just Facebook, but as many social media platforms as possible if they are seeking a career in Public Relations and digital marketing. Employers can easily spot candidates who claim to use social media, but have little interest beyond their own Facebook friends. To be successful in PR you need to have an in-depth grasp of social media and to be regularly engaging on it, writing blogs, sharing content and joining in group discussions. There are none of our PR clients that are not engaged in digital media and this means that all our PR account handlers have to be fully up to speed to be able to identify opportunities and maximise them on our clients’ behalf.
Hopefully this has been of interesting and if you are a graduate or PR professional seeking an exciting and fulfilling new career, then please do get in touch by emailing your CV and details to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01709 300130 for an informal discussion.