How to make the best start to your PR career

Choosing a career in PR is brave. It’s hard work. It’s not a nine-to-five role and the attributes required to be a great PR professional are more aligned to being an entrepreneur and starting a company of your own.

You’ll have an unending thirst for information. Information about the industry, the company or product you are promoting, the media landscape and the strategies and tactics you will need to deploy and this isn’t something you can switch on and off – this will define your place in your career and have an ultimate effect on success or failure. And all of this will have to come into play on day one.

Whether or not you have chosen to continue your education post the secondary school curriculum, and not doing so does not mean you have any less of the things mentioned above, take a look at how quickly you can get involved in the PR world.

For agencies or corporations hiring the cream of future communicators, a candidate’s hard work ethic and willingness to learn will get noticed. This is why I believe internships are so important; whether as a graduate or school-leaver, taking on an internship or signing up for an apprenticeship scheme makes people in the industry take notice of you. It demonstrates your dedication to building your career and learning new skills. It also shows you aren’t frightened of putting in the energy and time that this career demands. It’s definitely not an easy career choice and you have to be of a particular personality and have a strong desire to be successful at it.

We welcome interns and have an ongoing internship programme running throughout the year. As an employer, I believe in teaching best practice right from the get go. We like to encourage interns to have a hands-on role and they regularly contribute to our company blog – this also allows me to get an insight into the agency and industry from a fresh pair of eyes! It works both ways and is invaluable to gain perspective.

We launched Liberty Academy; a scheme which helps school leavers, graduates and those in entry level PR or marketing roles learn more about what it takes to be successful. If you are looking to start a career in PR, schemes such as the Academy provide agency insight and can give you a taste of what could be in store. It’s been great to give back.

Being open and supportive is something I’ve strived for and I am proud to have helped so many young communication professionals on their way to successful careers. Some have even started their own PR agencies or have moved into senior corporate communications roles in global organisations.

Once you’ve landed your internship, apprenticeship or job in PR, finding yourself a mentor is a great way to fast-track knowledge. Mentors can play a major role in helping you develop your career. If you find a person that can inspire you, teach you and help guide you on your career path, you are likely to emulate their own experiences.

Working with an agency who is committed to training and furthering your education within the industry is also extremely important. In technology PR, for example, the industry is constantly changing and developing, meaning that it’s important to want to learn about new technologies and market trends as well as developing your communication skill set. We hold ‘lunch and learn’ sessions once a month, where team members and industry experts share an area of their expertise with everyone in the office. Topics include anything that helps to round out knowledge or give a glimpse into technology with innovation at its forefront.

As well as getting internal support from your employer, there are a number of ways to find further information. PR publications and industry professional bodies, such as CIPR and PRCA, offer some great advice and inspiring success stories which can help you decide how to progress your PR career.

Starting out in any profession can be a daunting experience. It’s often confusing and the start you get is often the difference you need. PR is no exception! Remember that even the most seasoned PR professional had to start somewhere, but with hard work, dedication and a desire to learn you’re likely to impress employers, and make a great start to a career that is hard work, but oh so rewarding.

Dee Gibbs, founder of agency Liberty Communications

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