Breaking into the PR industry is no mean feat. The industry is intensely competitive and with floods of eager graduates joining the talent pool ever year, that fact doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.
To get ahead in PR, you probably need a decent degree, some writing skills, and an outgoing personality. But those three qualities alone are not enough.
The tips below, based on our 15 years of experience, will help you to stand out from the crowd.
1. Research your prospective employer
At first glance, you may think that all PR companies are alike, espousing similar values and assurances through their websites.
But each Company will probably mention their subtle differences somewhere on their website – for example, a particular emphasis on international relations or on high quality clients – which you can work into your interview answers.
2. Make your experience relevant
If you don’t have PR experience, it can be easy to feel out of your league. But remember that employers want staff to have a shared ‘skill bank’ and will be interested in candidates that have skills that may seem, to you, a little off the mark.
Talents likely to go down well when applying for a PR role include:
Whilst you probably shouldn’t highlight a completely irrelevant skill (don’t bother noting your flair for fantasy football), if you can demonstrate real talent in a certain area, the Company might well take you on to develop that talent, whilst training you in others and at the same time adding another string to its bow.
3. Read the papers
Unsurprisingly, having a good knowledge of the media will be a huge advantage in a PR interview.
That means not only knowing the political standpoint of each paper, or rough statistics on distribution, but names of the journalists writing in your chosen sector and potential profile opportunities.
For example, if you’re looking for a job in Financial PR, you may want to know the names of the Nationals’ City editors and some recurring features, such as The Times’ Business Big Shot. You might be able to pitch your clients for them in future.
4. Show that you’re a hard worker
Being ready to contribute the Big Ideas is, of course, appreciated. But be prepared for the hard work that pitching in, monitoring, and documenting can be.
People applying for PR roles can sometimes have a skewed idea of what the job entails, and imagine that their days will be packed with brainstorming, major campaigns and networking. In reality PRs often work long hours, and at a consistently quick pace, so employers will want to know that you’re ready to commit to being a productive member of the team.
5. Make sure your internet presence is acceptable and up to date
It is very likely that your social media links will be checked by your potential employer. Make sure that all your public pictures are appropriate for an employer to see, and that your LinkedIn profile is up to date.
6. Be confident and enthusiastic
No employer will be expecting you to come into an interview for your first job in PR already fully-trained, but a readiness to learn and confident manner will count for a lot.
This is particularly true in PR, when you will need to be comfortable talking on the phone and in person with new people all the time - show that you’re already at ease in the interview for one more tick on the checklist.
7. See the interview as a two-way conversation
At the end of the day, no matter how good your CV or experience, sometimes choosing a candidate comes down to whether you get on.
Make sure you are happy with the company culture and prepare some open-ended questions for the interviewer. If you enjoy the work and who you work with, you are more likely to be productive and an asset to the business.
A short note or email after the interview will be greatly appreciated. It will act as another small reminder that you are enthusiastic, thorough in your processes and already know how to make yourself memorable.
If you’re interested in joining the Redleaf Team, send your CV together with a covering letter setting out why you think you would be a great addition to our team to Nina Dowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.