Getting Started With Your PR Job Hunt

A PR job hunt guide written by a PR student on a job hunt … sounds logical enough right?

I’ve been lucky enough to talk to quite a few PR professionals over the past few months and they’ve all provided me with some great advice.

So for all the PR students out there who may be feeling a little overwhelmed with their studies, job hunting, managing their social networks and having a life; let me break it down step-by-step.

Step 1. Set up a blog

WordPress, Blogger, whatever.  Setting up your own blog is the most important thing in my opinion. And I don’t mean one where you talk about what you ate for dinner last night, that awesome bar you hit up the other night or the latest Harry Potter film. Sure, you could write about all that, but if you want a blog that’ll help you find that PR job: keep it focused.

Not only does a blog let you hone vital online writing skills, but it also allows you to share your views and opinions on the industry, put you into contact with other bloggers and teaches you things like blog promotion, social media marketing, reader feedback, website traffic, which are all important aspects of this digital era.

Step 2. Subscribe to other blogs

While it’s extremely important to keep updated when it comes to the fast-moving world of PR, I also find it motivating when I read other PR student blogs. Doesn’t matter if they’re in North Carolina, Toronto, New York,  Melbourne or Sydney, everybody’s got tremendous insight and experience to provide. I’ve learnt a ton about job hunting, internships and social media just by reading other people’s blogs.

However, I’d advise that you don’t limit yourself to just the communications industry. PR professionals have to be deal with a wide range of things, so keeping up-to-date with issues in politics, technology and business is also essential.

Some of the blogs that I read on the regular.

  • Brian Solis – Defining the Convergence of Media and Influence – Brian Solis is one of the leading thinkers and writers when it comes to public relations and social media.
  • Craig Pearce Strategic Communication – Australian communications veteran explores his thoughts on the PR, marketing and social media industries.
  • PRINKS – A collaborative blog run by Roger Christie and Gemma Crowley that aims to create a community of communications professionals and students.
  • Social PR Lifestyle! – One of the first blogs I ever read as a communications students  and definitely one of the most helpful when it comes to PR internships, portfolios and social media.
  • synapses – Dan Fonseca’s blog isn’t your average PR blog but he’s written some of the most interesting and thoughtful posts I’ve ever read. Well worth checking out.

Also, you should subscribe to For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report – a fantastic weekly podcast hosted by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson covering communication and technology around the world.

Step 3. Participate in conversations

I think it’s pretty crucial in your job hunt that you demonstrate an ability to participate and discuss. There are some great conversations going on over at #prstudchat on Twitter as well as on various LinkedIn groups. I’m part of groups like:

  • Public Relations and Communications Jobs Community
  • Public Relations Institute of Australia
  • Social Media Australia & New Zealand
  • Students and Recent Grads
  • YoungPRPros

Starting conversations by commenting on a blog is another really effective way to get discussions going with fellow PR students / professionals. I don’t there’s a better way to learn and keep up-to-date with the PR industry than to just share your ideas and opinions with others.

Step 4. Internship(s)

 If you read some of the Q&As in my Interview Series, you’ll find that the importance of work experience is a recurring theme.

Gregory Tan, digital analyst at Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, likes to think of them as “a form of self-discovery, of knowing whether you’ll actually like what you’re studying,” while Kelly Ahern, a blog and content manager says “interning also allows you to network and build up a professional database of credible professionals who may be able to either write you a recommendation or keep you in the loop about potential job openings – a total win-win.”

And Lauren Gray, a PR student whose had countless experience with internships, said “My classes have been beneficial, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve definitely learned the most when I was pushed into real-world experiences.”

But even getting that internship is one of the first of many steps to getting a job. So continue to develop relationships, network around, introduce yourself and talk to companies, keep reaching out, keep learning and never stop writing!

Good luck!

Interview with Stephen Waddington, Managing Director at Speed Communications

This week for my Interview Series, we’ve got Stephen Waddington, the Managing Director of Speed Communications, a UK-based PR agency.

This actually isn’t the first time Stephen’s appeared on my blog. He was one of the first PR professionals I interviewed for my post – Top 6 Career Tips from PR Professionals – and he provided some incredibly helpful advice:

Use your time at university to get ahead by immersing yourself in publishing tools and social networks. Build an online portfolio on LinkedIn, create a Twitter network and engage with PR practitioners and journalists, and create and publish your own content via a blog, Flickr, YouTube. You’ll stand out from the crowd and will create all sorts of connections that will put you in a strong position when you graduate and look for work.”

This time, Stephen discusses what he looks for when hiring new team members, using social networks to build professional relationships and PR blogging.

Q1. You’re the Managing Director of Speed, what are you looking for when hiring a new team member?

We’re looking for enthusiasm above all else and that is almost always best demonstrated through action.

Q2. How important do you think social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn are for building professional relationships and creating opportunities?

Twitter is particularly valuable as it completely democratises relationships. You can connect to anyone, monitor their feed and over time engage. But if you’re dull or you spam you won’t be followed back and ultimately you’ll be blocked.

Both LinkedIn and Twitter enable you to build relationships while you are studying. Graduates are able to enter the workplace with a ready built network.

Q3. Would you say that having a blog is absolutely essential for a PR student?

It’s not essential but it’s a good way to showcase your work and your opinions. But make sure that you do it well; a good blog will almost certainly get you hired. Yet the internet is littered lousy PR blogs that have been abandoned or aren’t managed properly.

Q4. In your opinion, what are the top 3 characteristics of a great PR professional?

  • Enthusiasm, 
  • Drive 
  • An understanding and engagement with the changing media landscape.

Q5. You’ve already provided us with some fantastic advice on how to get ahead with job hunting, but what would be your number one advice when it comes to developing a long and successful career in what seems to be a rather volatile industry?

Apply to join Speed.

***For more information visit Speed Communications or say hello to Stephen on Twitter @wadds***