I recently met with a young woman who was seeking advice on how to break into the public relations field. Like many people graduating college over the past couple of years, she returned home and took the first job presented to her. So what would be the best way for her to get started in the PR field? Here are the five tips I gave her:
1. Get a LinkedIn Account: While she was very active on Facebook, she was unfamiliar with LinkedIn. I think this is common with many graduates who engage in social medis for personal reasons versus professional. Many human resource professionals I know use LinkedIn to research and find prospective candidates. Creating a file on LinkedIn is a must alongside a traditional resume.
2. Clean Up Your Online Profiles: Since she was active on Facebook, I advised her to review her profile and privacy settings. Many people don’t realize that their profiles can be reviewed if the permissions are not set to “private.” Unfortunately, the wrong photo or wall post can stop the interview process in its tracks.
3. Join the PRSA LinkedIn Group: Since many of her friends are not in the PR industry, I recommended joining the PRSA LinkedIn Group. The group has useful advice for those starting in the industry and she could connect to other local professionals. There are also subgroups that may be of interest (I’m a member of the technology subgroup).This will help provide her with different views on the profession, as well as different practice areas.
4. Research Local PR Agencies: There are several large PR firms in the Los Angeles/Santa Monica area. I recommended that she do her research to learn more about each company, their culture, and areas of focus. This way, she can narrow down which firms may be of most interest to her. Furthermore, these are skills you need for researching bloggers, reporters and other influencers.
5. Request Introductory Meetings: Many firms and PR professionals are happy to meet with those interested in the industry. From my perspective, an introductory meeting can act an informal “interview”.” If you impress the person with your knowledge and interest, he/she may recommend you to the hiring manager for internal positions. Before requesting any meetings though, make sure to refer to point 4.
These were just five of the tips I provided. Hiring managers – what would you recommend someone do interested in joining your firm or company? PR folks, what did you do to get your foot in the door? Got other questions for getting into PR? Leave them in the comments.
Me? I actually got into PR when I lived in Taiwan as a Chinese-to-English translator for Ogilve & Mather PR.