Daney Parker, Editor, PRmoment.com
January is often a time people think about moving on and ideally moving on up. Here are ten top tips to help you find, and then land, the next ideal PR position for you.
Make an effort to connect with more people
Ruby Kite, talent, people and culture manager at PR agency The PHA Group: “It will no longer be enough to passively receive LinkedIn InMails like it was in 2022; candidates need to get to know their network and actually use it. This isn’t another way of saying ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’, but rather a prompt to employ one of your greatest strengths as a PR - building relationships - to benefit yourself, not just your clients. Engage with a stranger’s LinkedIn post, grab coffee with a former colleague, offer yourself as a mentor, or speculatively connect with an in-house talent team, and see where it takes you.”
Be curious … and persistent
Emma Loizidis, head of people at marketing agency Fox Agency: “Nobody expects you to know everything when you are starting out, but being curious and interested in the industry and the media is a must. Familiarise yourself with what is happening in the news - if you’re applying to a tech agency for example, look at what businesses are making headlines, and why. And don’t forget about podcasts - PRmoment has a great back catalogue of interviews with industry leaders which will give you a feel for how agencies work with clients.
“Be persistent - LinkedIn is a really helpful resource in identifying the hiring manager at your dream company, so don’t be afraid to reach out personally and show just how much you want the role.”
It will take commitment and courage
Jonathan Curtis, managing director, UK at PR firm Grayling: “To land your next big break first you need commitment. Find any way you can to keep in touch with future employers. I’m always most impressed and keen to help those who contact me directly to enquire about our agency.
“Next you need courage. We encourage our people to be brave, creative and to naturally challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions or approach any task you’re given in a slightly different way - diversity of thought is the lifeblood of any good agency. Finally, negotiate your role and salary - the best agency leaders are always conscious of new ways of working and the rising cost of living.”
Be confident and focus on your values
Claire Simpson, senior communications consultant at marketing and communication consultancy Hard Numbers: "Self-rejection is one of the biggest barriers to landing your dream PR job, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. One of the best ways to do this is to build your personal brand. This could be starting your own blog to developing a consistent social media presence - anything that will help you communicate your skills and passion areas.
“It’s also a useful exercise in knowing yourself. It’s easy to associate your ‘dream job’ with higher salary, a specific title or working with big-name brands. But, in reality, it’s much more fundamental than this, and should speak to your core values. This means different things to different people but might include work-life balance, autonomy in your role or working with a team you trust - and that trusts you in return."
G yourself up!
Zoe Ward-Waring, managing director of comms agency Sunny Side Up: “Whether you’re starting out or have been in the industry for some time and are now looking to land what you might describe as your ‘dream role’, there are three Gs that I believe are critical to demonstrate and keep demonstrating every day. My Gs are grit, grace and graft, as PR demands charm, determination, resilience, optimism and like with all ‘good’ jobs out there, you gotta’ work at it. It’s also not about all the interview stage or the early honeymoon period where the Gs need to come to the fore. I’d suggest that they’re all the more important to dial up when that ‘dream job’ has been a little too comfy to spur you onto the next level.”
Tani Fatuga, communications consultant at Hard Numbers: “First, don’t be a dreamer - be pragmatic. Match up your skills to the experience your dream job requires. There are many ways to get the skills required to succeed in your role - free online training, internships or maybe consider going back to study.
“Next, reflect, think about why you want a job. Sometimes we think we know what we want but it’s important to step back and ask ourselves why. Align your passions with the role and sector you’re pursuing. This is what interviewers will be looking for and will keep you motivated when faced with any rejections.”
Follow your passion
Tracey Stapleton, founder of agency The Spa PR Company: “When you are new to PR there’s nothing more important than gaining experience across a wide range of industries which is where agencies have an advantage. However, once you are ready to move on, your dream job will always be something you are most passionate about. Find out as much information as you can about the industry you like by reading trade publications and following key opinion leaders. Increase your profile by offering to write content for a website which specialises in your subject. Research the niche agencies or companies around your interests, start developing relationships with employees through LinkedIn and show them the knowledge you have which can add value to their business.
“My own interest in natural health and wellness led me to start The Spa PR Company and 19 years on, I am even more passionate about the subject with no day ever feeling like work.”
Tailor your application
Leah Jones, deputy managing director at agency CommsCo: “Once you feel you’ve found your dream job (or company), ensure that your application is tailored. A personalised application will stand out more than a CV and cover letter that seems like it’s gone to multiple companies in a ‘spray and pray’ approach.”
How to ace the interview
Highlight how you will make a difference
Yasmine Triana, Head of PR at agency Rooster: “Give the interviewer something to think about. I don’t mean how strong your writing is or how persuasive you are in a journalist pitch, as five other people will say the same. What are you reading? What do you care about? What life experiences have you had? Why is this your passion? Any strong leader knows to surround themselves with people that have a new perspective, or new skills they don’t currently have in the team, so use this to your advantage.”
Take a portfolio
Kate Baldwin, founder of comms agency The Flywheelers: “Come to an in-person interview with a portfolio of examples that you can point to. It’s a great way to make the examples you share more tangible to the interviewer, gives you an opportunity to direct the conversation towards the experience you want to talk about, and is a nice leave-behind that may make you more memorable than the next candidate when it comes to the final decision.
“In B2B comms, this could be examples of technical content you’ve written, creative pieces of coverage you’ve achieved, or a short write-up of an integrated campaign you’ve worked on. And for candidates seeking their first role, examples of personal blogs or mock-up story ideas for a preferred brand to show your creative thinking. Just remember that anything from an existing client must be in the public domain!”
If you are not thinking of moving anywhere right now (which is quite understandable given the current economic climate) then we hope the tips above will come in useful anyway. After all, it is always a good idea to keep networking and learning new skills if you work in PR.
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