Thinking of building a career in public relations? If you are the first thing you should realize is that public relations and advertising are two different things. If you have them confused, then you can be sure that no good public relations firm will be hiring you anytime soon. So make sure that you can differentiate the two, and that it is really a PR job that you want.
Once you are sure that it is indeed a career in public relations that you are interested in, then it’s time to assess whether you are indeed prepared for a PR job, or if you need to do more groundwork.
If you do not have a degree yet, this is the perfect time to choose a degree that is directly related like a public relations degree. However, you might also want to consider closely related degree programs like marketing, mass communications and journalism, both of which may not be specifically tailored for a PR career, but will still provide you a solid base for developing your skills and learning the basic concepts needed to excel in the industry.
On the other hand, if you already have a degree tucked under your belt, and it is not directly related to PR, you might want to take up additional classes to help you develop your communication skills. You can also volunteer to work as an assistant in the PR department of a non-profit group to help develop your PR skills, as well as helping beef up your resume. You can obviously do this even as an undergraduate student, but it even more important if you want to transition from a career in a non-PR related industry.
You should also be very particular about the industry sector you plan on focusing on. Since public relations is all about reputation building, you can’t have just a shallow understanding of the very industry you’re supposed to sell an image to. It would be a good idea to try to enter an industry sector you have a genuine interest in, so that you can learn the nuts and bolts more quickly. Besides, your passion for the industry will come across as you do interviews, and can make the difference between you landing a job or not.
Before you start sending out your resumes to PR firms and in-house agencies, make sure that your resume and cover letter does not contain even one grammatical or typographical error. Remember, this is the PR industry and even the most trivial error will lead to a disastrous first impression that will guarantee you won’t even get an interview. Make sure your application is also professional, because it is a reflection of your performance. After all, if you can’t sell an image of yourself, how can you be expected to handle the public relations of an entire company?
Last, but not least, be open about getting part-time and freelance jobs. These jobs might not be what you had in mind at first, but they can quickly lead to better opportunities, especially if submit quality work.