June 17, 2019
Congratulations, you’ve graduated! You’ve turned in your papers, taken your exams, and thrown your cap. Although you’ve proven that you know your stuff, stepping into a new role in public relations may feel daunting. If that sounds familiar don’t fret, whether your degree is communications-related or not, here are some things to start thinking about as you jump into a career in PR.
One of the first things that struck me as I embarked on agency life was the wide range of industries my clients operated in. From cybersecurity to real estate to criminal justice to legal affairs and beyond, during my first year in PR, I was exposed to industries and fields that I had limited experience with.
While reading through jargon-heavy emails and having unknown terms thrown at you can be overwhelming at first, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can catch up. With research, a keen eye to detail and a willingness to ask questions, you’ll have an understanding of industries you never thought you’d be interested in. And the best part? You’ll really become interested in them. The more you research, interact and work with your clients, the more invested you become.
You’ve definitely heard this before, writing is the most important part of PR. While I would argue it’s hard to pinpoint the most important component of PR, there’s no doubt writing is up there. From pitches to press releases to bylines, throughout your first year in the field, you will be busy whipping up drafts left and right.
It can be hard adjusting your writing style to not only match the tone of your clients, but also to the type of material you are drafting. Gone are the days of 20-page essays and research papers; be prepared to write concise, accessible and memorable content—and be creative! It’s your job as the writer to explain, and engage with your audience, through easy-to-read pitches and illuminating bylines.
This sudden change may not come easily at first, but don’t be afraid to ask for examples of past pitches, press releases or bylines as you begin your own draft. Working from an example can be extremely helpful as you start to familiarize yourself with these new writing styles and tones. And don’t be afraid of feedback, no one expects you to be perfect at your first go. Your colleagues and managers are there to review your writing and give advice on how to improve it—take it and run with it!
As you work to familiarize yourself with your clients, it is equally important to know what’s going on in the industry. You will quickly come to realize Google is your new best friend. Throughout your career in PR, staying up-to-date on breaking news and the latest developments in your client’s industries is paramount, and Google is the best way to do that.
Google is helpful for monitoring for client’s media coverage, keeping an eye out for rapid response, setting up Google alerts and more—I am Googling all day, every day. I learned pretty quickly in my first year in PR that while you may have access to media monitoring platforms and software services, sometimes the best way to monitor or find something is simple: Google it.
One of the things I’ve come to love most about PR is the fast-paced and ever-changing work environment. As you begin your new PR job, you will soon realize that no day is ever the same. While you may have certain daily tasks, like a media scan or report, client needs and industries are changing all the time, and so, your work does too.
Keeping up with the hustle and bustle can be difficult at first; but when you understand the industry, stay up-to-date on the news and are equipped with solid writing skills, you will be ready to jump right in. Embrace the unexpected and walk into the office each day ready for whatever gets thrown at you!
There’s no precise formula to help you in your transition from college student to PR pro. There will be different bumps along the road for everyone. But, with a positive attitude, willingness to learn, and fantastic team to work alongside with, you are guaranteed to jump right into a career in PR and never look back.