It's tough times for most businesses at the moment so for obvious reasons, it’s especially tough for young people attempting to enter the job market for the first time.
Which is why Tariq Peters, an account executive at Four Communications, has written an eBook for those looking to start a career in public relations.
The guide is called When the Dust Settles: How to Get a Job in PR After the Pandemic.
Having successfully found employment in PR a couple of years ago, Tariq makes recommendations for PR job seekers so that they have the best chance to gain employment when some economic normality returns.
This eBook is aimed for graduates looking to get into the PR/Communications industry, however, the tips included in it may well be relevant to other industries.
This eBook is completely free of charge, but Tariq has asked for donations from those who download to book to go to the Black Lives Matter UK charity.
Here’s my Q&A with Tariq talking about the book, why he decided to write it and how it may help people looking to start a career in public relations.
Ben Smith: While researching the book, did you get a sense of how graduates trying to get a job in PR were finding it? Have most of the graduate schemes remained open or have they shut?
Tariq Peters: I have always had graduates connect with me on LinkedIn curious about my role and how to get into PR. The competitiveness of the industry with the additional hurdle of the coronavirus pandemic has made it tougher than ever for graduates to find a way to get their foot in the door. Many graduate schemes have been postponed for next year and few agencies are hiring considering they have had to let people go during this difficult time. Speaking with several graduates encouraged me to develop this eBook to try and assist with their pursuit.
BS: How are graduates trying to get into PR feeling? And what are their current options?
TP: The situation currently is new for a lot of people, especially graduates. For graduates looking to pursue a career in PR it has not been easy and the lack of opportunities on offer has made it an exceedingly difficult time. Fortunately, various initiatives aim to help graduates develop their skills to get an opportunity to work in PR. One that I mention often is the Taylor Bennett Foundation. The Taylor Bennett Foundation is a charity that exists to encourage black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates to pursue a career in communications. They do this through their award-winning PR training programme, and internship and mentoring programmes. I am an alumnus of the Taylor Bennett Foundation and I am grateful to hear that they have managed to adapt to this current climate to develop a full online PR training programme for aspiring practitioners.
BS: What can people looking for a career in PR do to refine their skills ready for when the market re-opens?
TP: This ongoing pandemic made me think about how I would have fared, had I been navigating this current climate while looking for a job in PR. It is already hard to gain employment in your dream industry, and with COVID-19 looming it seems to have become an even bigger obstacle to overcome. I would say one of the most important things to learn or refine is the knowledge of the industry. Understanding how COVID-19 has affected the industry will be imperative as well as pinpointing campaigns from various companies and knowing the good from the bad. Having that understanding will be noteworthy as it means you have been understanding the media landscape during this time rather than keeping your head in the sand.
BS: A plan is critical, but presumably trying to have any certainty in that plan at the moment is difficult?
TP: Everyone’s circumstances are different but I think attempting to go through this with an optimistic mindset is key to get where you want to be. You may not get the opportunity you want right now, but you will have the opportunity to focus on developing the skills necessary to stand out when you put that plan in place.
BS: When and how should 2020 graduates apply for PR jobs?
TP: As a new graduate, I would say always keep an eye out for a job you may be interested in. Always aim to improve your chances but when an opportunity arises, I would advise anyone to go for it. I cannot stress enough the importance of networking and making yourself known in the industry. There are many senior PR practitioners more than happy to help someone passionate and driven towards their goals. I always say that it is about doing what others are not willing to do that makes you stand out, and I think with that mindset it will have to pay off sooner rather than later.
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