Ten tips for getting a job in PR by CM Porter Novelli’s Angela Casey

Everyone evaluates their career in the New Year, even a cynical old hand like me. Is it ever too late to change career and take on that dream job? Can you get the dream job if you don’t have any experience?

If your dream job is in PR, but you have no experience, here are my top tips:

1. Get experience

Whether it is volunteering for a local festival in the press office at the weekend or just asking to shadow someone in the industry, nothing beats hands-on experience to give you an understanding of the job. Even one day’s experience will give you something.

2. Network

If you attend events organised by people like the CIPR or PRCA you will meet others who work in the industry. This will not only get you some contacts, but might also introduce you to someone who has a vacancy. It is scary walking into a room where you don’t know anyone, but if you can get over that hurdle and start talking to people, it could pay off.

3. Take time to understand the industry

I still wonder sometimes how we ever managed anything before Google came along! It may not always be accurate, but the internet is a wonderful resource to learn more about the industry. Read press releases, look at websites, read biographies and use sites like PRmoment.com to see what people are saying.

4. Have opinions

When you get your interview because of points one to three above, you will need to demonstrate not just an understanding of the industry, but what you actually think about it. So use opinions and blogs to help you understand what you think about the future of PR, how it has changed in recent years and which bits of it you want to work in. Again, the internet is brilliant for this.

5. Make your experience relevant

Whatever your current job or the degree you have just passed is, there will be something about it that connects to the PR industry. Whether it is in the internal communications side of the organisation, the way in which a bar manager talks to customers, or in the trade press for your business, there is always something that touches the PR world. And if you can find that strand, it will show how you understand that PR touches everything.

6. Be proactive

Many organisations will consider interns or speculative applications. Some of the best people I have employed have been the ones who identified that they wanted to work for CM Porter Novelli and wrote in speculatively. Everyone wants to be loved – even a business! So take the time to find out where that dream job is and then just ask. You will most likely be turned down, but once you have that contact just keep in touch.

7. Persistence pays

No organisation, other than the “one man band” never has any vacancies and few people stay in their job forever. If you have made contact with your targets, then keep in touch – without becoming a stalker, obviously! A regular email or tweet will remind them you are there and that you are still interested when the vacancy finally comes up.

8. Practice makes perfect

Look for the jobs and apply for them. Even if you think they are not ideal, the interview practice is good and sometimes you might get to the interview and find that actually the organisation is where you want to be. I am where I am today because I took a punt on a job advert once, a long time ago.

9. Demonstrate your skills

I have talked before about the importance of being active on social media when looking for jobs. This is even more important if you do not have any PR experience. It will show that you understand social media, plus it will show you can write. You could put some blog posts up that are relevant to the industry and use it to showcase your skills.

10. Create allies

Try to build a net of supporters and friends within the industry. When you go to networking events, find people who work in your target organisations and talk to them – that way you will be clued up in interviews as well as having a potential supporter from within the team. Similarly, use sites like Linkedin and Twitter to connect and engage with likeminded PR people and potential allies. PR people like to talk!

Angela Casey, managing director of CM Porter Novelli, Edinburgh

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