Thursday, 17 June 2010

Want to get a job in PR? My 20 top tips

This post is inspired by my rather marvellous Media Relations Intern Meghan Tyrer who has been working with me for the past couple of months. The jobs market is tougher than ever for graduates but if you're savvy and persistent, opportunities are still out there. Here are my top tips (and I'd love to hear yours in the comments):


  1. Absorb as much media as you can: read as much as possible, watch every news bulletin, develop (if you haven't already got one) an internet addiction and become an expert at eaves-dropping. Your mission is to become a sponge, taking everything in. Save/bookmark everything that inspires you. 
  2. Develop your critical thinking and constantly ask yourself questions. Why was that story chosen as the lead? Why was that picture used? How did Organisation A handle such-and-such media storm? What would you have done? Who benefits from that particular story? Who commented? What did they say? Why?
  3. Develop your writing skills. If your grammar is weak, brush up on it. (You could do worse than read this.) If you lack confidence in your writing, get practising.
  4. Start a blog. Don't wait to be given the opportunity to write - get on with it! Pick an area that is relevant to your job search and start writing about it. Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else's. The more blogs you can read and link to, the better. If you've got the time, blog every day. Comment on other people's blogs and make a mental note of what makes certain posts popular or otherwise. Wordpress or blogger (which is what I use) are good, free platforms.
  5. Join Twitter. I know, I know, I go on about Twitter all the time but it is certainly an easy way to build your network. Here's an old post I wrote about getting started on Twitter.
  6. Join LinkedIn - yes, it's dull, yes, it's corporate, but there are also no naked pictures of you on your mate's stag do and for that reason alone, it's great for business networking. Protocol dictates you don't add people you haven't actually met. But do make sure if anyone you've worked for is on there that you (very politely, of course) ask them for a recommendation.
  7. Sign up with as many recruitment agencies as possible. Good Birmingham ones are AF Selection, Blue Skies and 2nd City Resourcing. Also check out the Guardian Job pages (Media and PR jobs are on a Monday) and PR Week. Sign up for all the email job alerts you can.
  8. Surround yourself with positive, intelligent people. Job hunting is a hard slog. For young graduates who are still finding their feet in the world it is even tougher. There will be days when you feel really low and you will need good friends and family to pick you up. 
  9. Don't get into (more) debt! Debt is evil! Avoid it like the plague.
  10. Exercise. Do you think champions sit on the sofa all day? No they don't! Anna Wintour plays an hour of tennis at 5am every day. Admittedly she probably also eats small children for breakfast, but still you will need stamina and energy to keep you going.
  11. Remember those positive, intelligent people you're surrounding yourself with? Get them to read over your CV and/or supporting statements. A second pair of eyes will always pick up something you've missed.
  12. Get as much experience as possible through internships, work experience or volunteering. These look great on your CV and give you a taste of the world of work.
  13. Network your socks off. If you live in Birmingham, congratulations because there's myriad opportunities to meet new people for free every day. Check out All Brum for the latest.
  14. Write a list of every person and organisation you want to work with and write to them telling them why. Research potential employers and think of great ideas for their business. Write to them or find a way to meet them to tell them about it.
  15. Practise your elevator pitch. This is named after Hollywood executives who only have the length of a ride in a lift with some famous director to convince her about their pet project. The idea is you need to be able to sell yourself in 60 seconds. What are the key skills you can offer? What's your unique selling point? Are you particularly knowledgeable in a certain area? Or do you have bags of energy? Or great client service skills?
  16. Save all the compliments you get. Keep them in a big 'Actually I Am Brilliant' file for those days when you need a boost.
  17. Read this. It's the definitive job hunting book.
  18. Roll with the punches. It's unlikely that you'll get the first or even the first 20 jobs you go for, so develop a thick skin. It's nothing personal, you just weren't right for that role. Focus on what you've learnt through the process instead.
  19. Make an inspirational playlist and play it loud. I love the lyrics to this.
  20. Stay positive - you can do it - and good luck!
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