Last week, while speaking at the Curry College Public Relations Student Association (CCPRSA) chapter meeting, some interesting questions came up with regards to how to break in to the PR industry. Several of the students in attendance were getting their graduate degrees and had come from very different disciplines than PR. While switching from advertising to PR may be an easier transition than, say, switching from finance to PR, there are some skills that transcend specific job descriptions and become universally applicable. Skills like writing, creative thinking or relationship building can be just as applicable to one job as it is the next. But, when specifically looking to transition to PR, what’s the best way to get started?
Network – Probably the most obvious of all tips, but can’t be said enough – network, network, network! Think of everyone you meet as your ticket to a new career. But, don’t just simply take their business card and file it away. It’s important to establish and cultivate networking relationships by staying in touch. It’s immensely more effective to follow up with a contact off the back of an email you sent that says something like, “So nice to have met you last night,” than to come out of the blue, saying, “Not sure if you remember me, but we met several months ago….” Having that initial frame of reference can often be the difference between getting a reply and not. What’s more, there are many PR networking events that take place, including those put on by the Publicity Club of New England that can prove invaluable for establishing well-placed connections in the PR world.
Show Your Skills – While many skills can be universally applicable, there are certain skills that are paramount to a career in PR, especially if you want to transition into the field above entry level. One such skill is the ability to write – clearly, concisely and creatively. If your current job doesn’t lend itself to showcasing your writing skills, create an outlet that does – i.e. a personal blog. There are many free blog platforms, such as WordPress or HubSpot that would easily allow aspiring PR pros to highlight their writing skills and develop a portfolio of sorts. Whether it’s writing, speaking, analysis or some other skill, the point is, if you’re not developing that skill in your current position, find a way to do it!
Read – There are many different types of PR – from technology to beauty and sports to politics – whatever it may be, it’s important to know your stuff. If you want to go into tech PR, it’s essential to be reading the top technology news of the day, and likewise for every other discipline. Not only will this help you hone your knowledge and prepare for interview questions, but it will also give your writing an edge as you observe how journalists are writing about topics you’ll likely have to leverage in PR campaigns. In addition to reading about the type of PR you’re interested, it’s also important to read about PR itself. Being up on award-winning campaign tactics, latest social media strategies and PR horror stories can’t help but help you get up to speed more quickly on your future public relations career.
Have any other tips for those looking to make a career change into PR? What other fields might be particularly well suited to transitioning to PR?