Anyone working in PR has been there… that place you find yourself when trying to secure your first job in PR.
Having been with Fuzion since 2007, I have been involved with the hiring process of several interns and team members. Being on the other side of the application and interview process has taught me a lot about what you should and shouldn’t do when looking for your first PR job, so I’ve decided to share a few tips.
Update your CV and cover letter
Make sure your CV is tailored to the job, well written (good grammar, no typos), and most importantly, up to date. Oh, and don’t lie!
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so don’t let yourself down at the first hurdle. Whether you are a graduate or are interested in a career change, we understand that you’re not yet an expert in the field of PR, but we do want to know what you can bring to the table.
Whilst you might not have anything that directly relates to PR, I would suggest that you try to highlight specific achievements and areas you do have experience in, and show how these are transferable to PR. PR is about pitching and this is your first opportunity to pitch yourself to us or any potential employer.
With cover letters, make them cover letters!
As in, send it in the body of your email and not as an attachment. Also, we know if we’re getting a generic cover letter, so specifically tailor it to the job for which you are applying WITH US… there’s nothing worse than getting an application in which you tell us why you would be a valuable asset to the team at “A.N Other Company”.
Of course, we know we’re probably not the only company you’re applying to, but if you expect us to take the time to review your application and respond to you, please have the courtesy to get our name right.
A simple trick here is to check our website beforehand and to personalise your application to the person you think might be doing the recruiting. If you are not sure who that person is then ring in advance and ask.
Check your online presence out before we do!
Google yourself – what do you find online about yourself. Hopefully you should find a Twitter and LinkedIn account, but if you don’t, set them up now! If you can’t be found on Twitter, and especially LinkedIn, it means you’re not taking advantage of these platforms, and they are where you need to be.
With Twitter, follow key players and influencers in the media, learn about the industry, and make connections by retweeting posts you find interesting or relevant. A LinkedIn account is pretty important for anyone on the lookout for a job in the industry. Why not ask college professors and former employers to write recommendations for you – let them tell us how good you are! Don’t underestimate the power of social media.
If you fancy yourself as a writer (we love people who can write well) then start your own blog and start writing about your favourite things – make sure you include this in your CV.
Yes, we do check all of this!
Connect, and stay connected
During the interview, we like to get a feel for you, and so often ask about who you follow online, what papers you read, what journalists and news sites are you a fan of. Educate yourself on the industry – we’re not interested if you follow the guys from Geordie Shore, or Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, so try to be relevant! Tell us why certain blogs or news sites interest you.
We’ve done our homework on you, now do your homework on us
You’ve secured an interview, now familiarise yourself with our company, our clients and campaigns, and have some sort of idea about our company ethos. Tell us why you’re interested in this position, and particularly in Fuzion, and why you think you are a good fit. Don’t get caught off guard, these are obvious things we will look for, so be prepared. Knowing your stuff will not only calm your nerves for the interview, it will also show us that you have initiative, and are enthusiastic and serious about working with us.
Be able to tell us what you could bring to the table, have some ideas of how you would put a PR plan together – as I’ve already said, we know you’re not experienced in the field, but have a think about this in advance. Do you have a dream client? What would you do for them if they were launching a new product or had some important news to share? If you want to work in PR, you’re going to need to be able to do this on a regular basis, so show us you can.
And most importantly be yourself. Trust me, we want to hear your personal story and we want to hear your opinion about things. Be honest and don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
Ok, you didn’t get the job this time, and you ask “Do I need a specific degree to get a job in PR or what do I do next?”
If you have excellent communication skills, then you have some of the basic characteristics for a career in PR. A relevant qualification is not always necessary, but it can be an advantage and provides you with the competitive edge against other applicants—at least on paper.
At Fuzion we don’t specifically look for a degree in public relations – our team is made up of experienced PR professionals, ex-journalists and producers, media trainers, social media experts, and graphic designers, as well as individuals with senior management experience.
So don’t be disheartened that you didn’t get this job. Go out there and get some hands on experience – volunteer for a non-profit or charity, PR your local festival, help out at community events, write a blog, do some freelancing; and don’t give up on your PR dream. Show why you can become an invaluable member of any PR team.
Make sure that we don’t forget you by sending us a nice email and thanking us for considering you in the first place. One of our team got a job with Fuzion on the third attempt – we love persistence, another great trait for a PR person!
The very best of luck with your PR career ..
Alison O’Brien is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing which has offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland