Public Relations (usually referred to as PR) involves communicating a message to one or more of the different target audiences an organisation wishes to influence in a positive way. It may also be known as Corporate Communication.
PR professionals use a variety of media and communication channels to build, maintain and manage the reputation of their clients. They may work for a single organisation, such as a business, charity or public sector body or in a PR agency, working with a variety of different clients. In-house PR staff are often referred to as PR officers while those in agencies are known as PR account executives, but job titles are not consistent.
- Job profile of a public relations officer from the Prospects website
- Job profile of a public relations officer from the TARGET Jobs website
- Job profile of a public relations account executive from the Prospects website
- Overview of PR graduate career path and desirable skills from the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GBR)
To succeed in PR, you need to have excellent written and verbal communication skills, to be hard-working and able to deal with a number of different tasks at one time, creative, determined, persuasive and persistent. Presentation skills are important. You need to be versatile and adaptable with a good eye for a story and the ability to craft content. You need to be interested in business and understand that agencies need to make profits!
Competition for entry-level posts is strong so you need to do lots of research into what PR involves, follow PR employers, publications and professional bodies on social media and gain work experience. This is often available through internships – for graduates or undergraduates. Many people enter PR after experience in journalism, advertising or marketing.
Experience is important and volunteering can be a good way to gain this, for example by helping a local charity to promote their fundraisers on social media, see www.do-it.org for opportunities in Kent and across the UK. You could also write for Inquire or join the Kent Student Media Society. Other examples of work experience can be found on the Prospects site
Employers include specialist PR consultancies, advertising agencies, industrial and commercial organisations, local and central government, charities and educational institutions. While very many graduates will be recruited to individual jobs in smaller PR agencies or in-house departments, a number of the large agencies do run graduate training schemes.
- PR Careers publishes an annual list of 150 agencies which recruit graduates and/or offer internships
- PR Week also lists the top 150 agencies, but without details of their graduate recruitment
- PRCA Directory of Members
Recruitment agencies and jobs boards
- CIPR Jobs
- Guardian Jobs
- JFL Search and Selection specialise in PR: recommended by a Kent graduate who got a job in PR via them.
- Media Contacts PR, Marketing, Sales, Events, Editorial and Digital roles. The site includes interview advice
- Pathfinders Media Recruitment
- PR Futures Most posts are for experienced staff but the jobseeker tips and blog provide useful background
- The Drum
- PR Week Jobs
Find out more
- How to Find a PR Internship Getting as much industry experience as possible will work in your favour when looking for a full time position. During your placements you will have been given the opportunity to draft press releases, gain an understanding of the day-to-day running of a press office and the organisational skills necessary to be successful in this industry. Any work experience will be a great learning curve and a fantastic opportunity for you to polish your skills in researching and writing.
Tips for starting a career in PR
- Chartered Institute of Public Relations The site includes careers advice, case studies and a downloadable “Careers in Public Relations" guide
- Public Relations Consultants’ Association
- The Taylor Bennett Foundation offers graduate PR traineeships throughout the year for black, Asian and ethnic minority graduates.
- Communications and PR in the NHS
Social media and PR
Today's PR professional is multi-skilled and knows how to produce content, not just press releases. They act as publishers on social media and keep up with advertising, copyright and media law. They are creatives and manage multi-channel campaigns. Their strategies need to be fit for purpose for today's business environment - it's digital first. They need to know how to use platforms, tools and analytics and have the ability to identify trends to inform strategy.
How to get ahead in PR Dragonfly Communications
Don’t let your online presence ruin your career in PR!
Employers will Google you as your online presence is important in PR. Make sure that they do not find negative content on your social media accounts. Examples could be drunken pictures or bad language.
Use your social media as positive tools to connect with and follow employers and create and find opportunities.
Whether you are applying for work experience, graduate internships or permanent jobs, you can’t rely on jobs being advertised: it is also essential to make speculative applications. Don’t be afraid to approach an employer directly even if they are not advertising any suitable vacancies.
You will be more likely to get a positive response to this approach if you:
Make sure that your CV and covering letter are top-quality.
Do your research. Try to find out the name of the relevant contact from the company website or by phoning the switchboard. If the website says clearly that speculative applications will not be accepted, then don’t send one!
Tailor your covering letter - don't just send the same letter to different organisations. Say why you are applying to this particular organisation and tell them what you can offer.
Follow up your CV with a phone call after a week or so if you haven't heard anything.
Getting a job in public relations
While a postgraduate qualification in PR is not essential, it may improve your chances of securing a position, although it will not be a substitute for the personal qualities and experience that employers want.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations and Public Relations Consultants’ Association both offer a range of qualifications. These are generally part-time or short courses, delivered on a face-to-face basis, via online learning or as a mixture of the two (blended).
PR can also be studied as a Master’s degree. Courses that include placements, internships or projects will help you to build up your practical skills and experience. A few are listed below: you can find a complete list on the CIPR website
- Behind the Spin: PR for students and young practitioners
- PR Week Careers pages
- PR Moment
- TARGET Jobs How do I get a graduate job in PR?
- Dragonfly Communications: How to Get Ahead in PR
- The Guardian: PR Careers
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