Getting started in PR

It’s almost July and you want help getting started in PR. Those three years of hedonism are now behind you, your all-important degree certificate is in your back pocket, and you’ve got nearly £40,000 worth of debt weighing you down. You’ve decided that PR is the career for you… So how do get your foot on the ladder?

Getting started in PR

So lets get started in PR

Well, a good first step is to have a thorough understanding of the industry you’re about to join. That may sound a little patronising, but at Hartigan we sometimes find that new graduates have a somewhat…unrealistic idea of what PR actually involves. Believe it or not, PR isn’t one long whirl of champagne-fuelled events and press junkets in sun-kissed locations!

Obviously, you should have a thorough understanding of what the actual day-to-day role of a PR person is – partly to help you decide whether you have the skills to forge a career in the industry, but also because you’ll be expected to know this at interview. So get yourself genned up on basic public relations skills and responsibilities: what a press release is, and how to write one; how stories get into the media; creativity and research.

Once you’re fully clued up on what PR actually involves, it’s time to start looking for the right agency. Ideally, you’ll have done some work experience in the summer holidays or during your year out, but it’s not disastrous if you haven’t. You simply need to spend a good few hours researching PR firms that interest you and find out what graduate programmes or internships, they have available. This is vital for getting started in PR.

Sure, there are plenty of websites like Guardian Careers, but nothing beats good old-fashioned passion, so don’t be scared to pick up the phone to the agencies which appeal and ask about opportunities! Remember: first impressions count, and it’s vital that you demonstrate your knowledge of, and interest in PR; why you want to work in the industry, and why they should consider you as a candidate.

Think of your job application as a pizza: you’ll need the same robust base for each application, demonstrating your passion for PR and communications in general, and the skills and experience that you can build on. An interest in writing, for example, as shown by your work for the student newspaper, is just the thing an agency is looking for.

Then come the ‘toppings’, where you tailor your approach to the individual company. Why do you want to work for that particular agency, or in that sector? What can you bring to the agency, and what makes you head and shoulders above the other candidates they’re seeing? These are questions that will inevitably come up at interview in any case, so make sure you do your research on the company, their work, and main industry sectors.

If you’ve done your research right, you’ll be able to use your application to wax lyrical about why you want to work for that specific company – which is what every hiring manager wants to hear. So show that you’re familiar with their work, including recent campaigns they’ve conducted; demonstrate an understanding of the company culture; or talk about the opportunities they give for career progression, such as learning and professional development (for example, through their affiliation with professional bodies such as the PRCA or CIPR.

Getting started in PR, let us help!

After three years slogging away at university, you don’t need us to tell you that hard work pays off. But Hartigan can help you find your feet in the (often) exciting world of PR. If it’s help with your CV or a chat about the best approach to getting your first internship, we’re only a phone call away.