MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions
July 16, 2012
McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most asked about our business.
Question 6: How do you start a career in PR?
As an MP&F intern coordinator, I work with young, eager people who are itching to get into the field of public relations. I enjoy the process of mentoring our interns and watching their development throughout each semester. Some of them are dying to fulfill their Samantha Jones career dream (let me tell you, NOT going to happen) and can define every PR term imaginable, from “news release” to “grassroots campaign.” That’s a great start, but what does it really take to snag that entry-level PR job?
Internships. Whether it’s writing for a school, club or local community publication or interning in a large firm, on-the-job experience is key. You can learn only so much in the classroom. Start your internships early, and try several different places to figure out which type of environment suits you. You may find you enjoy working for a nonprofit, in a corporate setting or at a small agency. Check out websites like Intern Sushi for available intern positions and tips. Also, visit your university’s career center to practice job interviewing for that big internship.
Networking. Ask a PR professional to have coffee with you. Pick their brain. Ask about what they look for in entry-level candidates and what you can do to be prepared after graduation – though your job search should start well before you graduate. Also be sure to take advantage of job shadowing. It’s a great way to make new connections and find out more about different companies.
Portfolio. Be sure to create a strong portfolio to showcase all of the hard work you’ve put into your internships and education. Include several different types of writing samples (news releases, blog posts, brochure copy), resulting media hits, PR plans, social media campaigns and anything else you have worked on that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Intangibles. There are several key skills that PR pros must possess. Weak writers need not apply. Digital media experience is a requirement these days. You must be detail-oriented, able to multitask, hard-working and a team player. Positive attitudes are essential, as well as the willingness to go the extra mile. Standing outside in the rain to direct traffic at a Saturday event? No big deal. Media calls at 5 a.m.? Done.
Take it from a girl who started her PR career by Googling “What is a news release?” and “What can I do to get an internship at a top PR firm?” The Google results led to three internships and one big interview on the 28th floor of a high-rise in downtown Nashville. It will take persistence, hard work and a positive attitude, but you will get there. Samantha Jones will have nothing on you.
Already working in PR? How’d you get your start?