Whether you’re currently studying, a recent graduate or are thinking about a career change at any time of life into PR and/or marketing, it can sometimes feel like a daunting prospect, and you might not really know where to start.
Following these tips can help not only with the practical side of building up essential skills and finding ways to stand out on your CV and in interviews, but also in giving you the confidence in your own ability to forge a successful career in PR and marketing.
1. Know your stuff
You might have studied marketing and public relations (or maybe not) but all the buzzwords, models and theory in the world are only useful if you can apply them to real-world scenarios, campaigns, and activity. A really useful exercise can be to try and reverse engineer successful campaigns that you’ve seen (and admire) to work out what it took to put them together (or illustrate how you would do it), and also how the campaign actually benefitted the brand involved in a tangible way.
This is the kind of thing you can talk about in a job interview which shows that you really understand marketing principles and have taken the time to really think about why certain campaigns are successful and how it was done.
2. Do an internship or work experience placement in a PR or marketing agency
We’re not talking about the lengthy unpaid internships of old here, but a great way to get real experience of the PR and marketing world is to ask for a one to two-week placement in a marketing or PR agency where you can learn from people at various stages of their career. Not only does this help you with hands-on experience, but it can also help you to start building contacts within the industry, which can prove really useful throughout your future career.
You don’t need to stop at one placement. Getting experience in different agencies or teams is a good way broaden your knowledge and network with even more people.
3. Get some journalism experience if you can
If you want to work in PR, a busy news desk can be the perfect environment for you to learn, because of the close relationship between journalism and public relations. Lots of PR people have previously trained and worked as journalists and the transferrable skills between the two are many. You need to be able to find and pitch stories, write good copy quickly and deal with tight deadlines in both professions. Working alongside journalists can also give you great insight that will help with pitching once you’re working in PR. You’ll see first-hand how journalists choose which stories to use from the dozens or even hundreds they receive every day, along with essential knowledge such as the best time to call a journalist and what makes a good story for a variety of different audiences.
4. Get some other relevant experience
You absolutely don’t need to wait for your first role in PR and/or marketing to find relevant experience, and it can really make securing your first job in this industry a lot easier too. Are there any local charities or non-profit organisations that you can volunteer for to help gain experience in the right areas, and achieve something else positive at the same time?
This could be anything from local radio to sports clubs, community groups or any kind of charity. You often get the freedom to try new things in these types of settings and it can be a great way to learn and get that essential real-world experience, which are a great bonus to have on your CV and to refer back to in interviews.