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How to put a spring in your PR career

It may not be warm enough yet to pack away your winter coat, but all those daffodils out there mean that the spring has sprung, so now is a great time to look for a new job in PR. Even if you are happy in your present role, you should still take stock. Check that your skills are up to date; that you are doing all you can to shine in your present role; and that your employer is aware of your dedication and enthusiasm. The next step, naturally, is then straight into your boss’s office to demand a pay rise! We asked PR recruitment specialists and PR leaders for their advice about how to get ahead in PR this spring. Here’s what they said:

  • Ten top tips for improving your prospects in PR
  • Educate yourself about the market place
  • Update your CV
  • Get active on social networks
  • Engage with relevant industry groups
  • Attend networking events
  • Build and maintain professional relationships, both online and personally
  • Find a specialist recruiter
  • Do your homework about the companies you want to work for
  • Practice your interview skills
  • If you love the job you are in, ask for a pay rise (being clear about why you deserve it)

How to add some spring to your career

Fiona Murray, global head of marketing for recruiter VMA Group: “Here at VMA, we definitely see an increase in job moves and promotions in most industries as spring approaches. As we come out of the dark winter days, many people are naturally more positive and use this energy to seek new career opportunities. However, this means that PR professionals looking to take the leap into a different role will really need to set themselves apart from a growing crowd.

“There are multiple ways individuals can achieve this. In the first instance, it’s important to spend some time getting your CV and social networks up to scratch. Make sure you are being active on the right online channels and engaging with groups that include some of your ideal companies to work for. It’s also vital that you seek out networking opportunities, after all, getting actual face time with a potential employer will help put you front of mind for job.

“Finally, utilising the networks and experience of specialist recruiters will really set you on the path to success. Remember the key purpose of a recruiter is to help an individual stand out from the competition and secure their dream job, so use them to your advantage and make sure you select the right advocate for you.”

Jo Seymour-Taylor, client services director at agency Stir Public Relations: “The marketing mix as we know it is constantly changing, with disciplines having to adapt to new consumer behaviour and needs. More and more, we are seeing PR taking a lead role at the table. With this in mind, I would say never stand still. Ask questions, continue to learn and adapt your skills for this evolving media landscape.

“Get it right from the start; it is important to ensure you truly understand your brand’s target audience, business objectives and commercial landscape before developing a campaign strategy. We practice what we preach at Stir, always encouraging our staff to think beyond the task in hand, aim beyond the coverage and of course deliver beyond expectation. 

“Most importantly, and a skill almost unique to our discipline, is building and maintaining relationships. Our industry is based on the ability to communicate messages effectively; a true PR professional should nurture relationships throughout their career, as ultimately these will help engage the target audience in question. This is the case whether you’re communicating with a client, supplier, social following, or indeed the media. So, as we always say at Stir PR, make sure you keep hold of (and keep growing) that little black book of contacts.

“In summary, get to know your brand inside and out, nurture your relationships and finally never stand still!”

Jessica O’Dell, manager at recruiter Gemini People: “In our experience, the spring can be a great time to job hunt in PR. The usual shred-and-shed frenzy of people moving around in the new year has passed by, new business wins are confirmed, and budgets are being set for the new financial year. It’s a good time to make a move before the inevitable lull of the summer, when many key agency decision makers take well-earned extended holidays or time out with their families.

“For those who are happy where they are, you’ve hopefully amply demonstrated your loyalty and worth, so it’s time to make sure you’re being acknowledged for that. Whilst we’d never advocate interviewing elsewhere to get a counter-offer, it’s sensible to educate yourself about what else could be out there, what your peers are being paid and how well their careers are being supported. If you are truly valued, the cost and pressure of replacing you will be far higher than an overdue pay rise or promotion, so be well prepared, pragmatic and have an honest conversation with your boss.”

Catherine Maskell, head of global marketing at recruiter REED: “Traditionally associated with new beginnings, spring is the perfect season to work towards your career goals. However, it is essential not to rush into any hasty decisions. Write down up to five things you’d like to gain – such as a better work-life balance or more creative freedom – and evaluate your options against these criteria. And don’t forget to take account the sector in which you want to work. For example, with many companies having new budgets released in April – you may have more bargaining power than you would later in the year. There may also be more opportunities for this reason.

“For those wanting to work in agency, it’s essential that you choose the company that is right for you culturally, as well as the clients they work with. An interview is the perfect opportunity to assess whether it’s a place you would like to work, as well as whether you’re appropriate for them, so make sure you’re asking the right questions. Another way to find out about whether a company is right for you is to work closely with your recruiter. Whilst you can find out about the hiring manager on LinkedIn, your recruiter will have greater insight into their personality and what type of person they are looking for.

“Be prepared to think outside the box to secure the job you want – particularly if you’re going for a sought-after role and don’t have bags of experience to convey. PR is a creative industry so don’t just write your CV, why not film your own interview sketch or write a blog to enhance your personal ‘brand’. And whatever you do, don’t forget to ensure your social media profile only contains information you’re happy for a potential employer to see (or set your privacy settings!).

“Finally, don’t underestimate the power of your personal appearance, especially in creative industries. Your clothes should demonstrate the best version of you and your suitability for the company, so traditional attire may not always be appropriate. Consult the REED What to wear for an interview guide.”

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