To land your dream PR job, you must put in the effort, says CM Porter Novelli’s Angela Casey

Good communication is what PR is all about. We spend our days writing stunning copy, great press releases, engaging intelligently online and generally attracting attention for our clients. And yet, it is a mystery to me why so many of the PR hopefuls out there simply don’t know how to do their own PR when securing a job. 

Only this morning an email came in with a CV attached, but with the salutation addressing not me, but another managing director in another consultancy. Your big chance and it’s gone. Email should be the answer to every PR hopeful’s dream – emails direct to the recipient that get opened in real time and dealt with (we hope!) instantly. It offers so many opportunities to get it right, so what a shame when someone gets it so wrong. It is an extremely competitive environment out there, so anyone looking for a job has got to work extra hard just to get noticed.

So here is a sanitised version of my recent rant during our latest round of recruitment. PR graduates and would-be trainees, please read and take note.

No typos

Check your copy again and again. Get someone else to read it. Why would I employ you if you are going to write press releases, emails, Tweets with mistakes in? So make sure your CV and covering email or letter are word perfect.

Don’t lie

The PR world is small and in Scotland where we are based, it is even smaller. People know people and if you make claims about a previous internship or job, you will be found out and struck off the list. It has happened.

Sell yourself as a PR person, not as a leader

Your would-be boss wants someone who will make their job easier – not a 22-year-old competitor. Take time to demonstrate what you have learnt so far, how you will be effective in PR and how you will achieve results within a team rather than focusing on your great leadership skills.

Make sure you do what it says on your tin

In the digital age it takes a matter of minutes to have your own Twitter persona, create a blog or write a feature. Use these tools to demonstrate how you will make a difference and with any luck companies will already know of you before you even apply. These days no one is going to interview someone who has no idea about social and online media. In the lifespan of our industry, the explosion of this medium is having more impact than the move to digital print in the late 1980s, so it’s vital to be out there.

Prove yourself

While it might be a cliché to say pick up internships and experiences, even these at the moment are not falling into the lap of every graduate and many people are having to interview even for a two-week unpaid placement. Treat each one like a job application – a foot in the door or a live recommendation from within the industry is worth a lot. Then, when you are offered a placement, don’t whinge that it is not a real, permanent job!

We none of us have any secrets

Managing directors may appear old and out of date, but we know what’s going on online, it’s our job. It is no fallacy that companies check out potential employees on Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. It may be a good idea to check your privacy settings or at least remove the dodgy pictures of the student parties. I know of one managing director who, on checking a member of staff’s Facebook page, saw that his hobbies were “taking illicit substances and avoiding the boss”. Might be worth doing a quick check of your status before you apply?

And once you are in ….

Be keen, be visible and make yourself indispensable by discovering skills for yourself that are unique – everyone loves a doer and someone who knows something the boss doesn’t is bound to be valuable!

Just a note. If you happen to be looking for a PR job in the UK, it's worth checking out PRmoment Jobs. (We wrote that bit, not Angela!)

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