Mentoring has gone out of style as of late it seems. But if you can, find someone — a PR specialist, an event planner, a PR coordinator — who is willing to help you along.
On to McLintic’s guidelines on breaking into the PR industry:
1. Know What PR Is Not.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is confusing public relations with advertising or marketing. McLintic lets us in on a little secret. He says, “I always ask the candidate to tell me the difference between PR and advertising.” Your interviewer will not be impressed if you cannot. Ask yourself this question, and if you don’t know the answer, research it. Be sure you know what the industry and job entail.
2. Earn the Appropriate Degree.
If you’re a student and already know that you want to become a public relations professional, then earn the appropriate degree. There are many degrees you can earn that will put you on a fast track to the public relations industry. Public relations, communications, marketing, and journalism degrees will give you the necessary skills and knowledge to enter the public relations field.
3. Pick a Sector You’re Passionate About.
What are you passionate about? When you’re in PR, you’ll be covering the same subject matter day in and day out. In order to be successful and not get bored, you must enter a sector that you love. Plus, once you pick a sector, learn as much about it as you can. Learn about trends, news, market updates, key players, events, publications, and anything else you can research. This knowledge will serve you well in the interview.
4. Where Do You Want to Work?
Most entry-level positions will be in public relations firms or agencies. However, many corporations and organizations hire public relations professionals for their in-house departments. Decide where you’d be most comfortable working. Starting out, you’ll most likely be at an agency. Use the experience to learn as much as you can and get a feel for it. You can always move into an in-house environment later in your career. Working with a firm will expose you to many campaigns, and upward movement will be possible. However, if you want to earn the big bucks, then an in-house position is for you.
Additional Tips on Breaking into the PR Industry
Finally, just some time, effort, and patience can help you get that break you’re looking for. Find a list of the top public relations firms. You can also search for firms in your area. Go down the list and give each firm a call. Simply asking all of them if they have internships available might get you in the door.
Social networking is another excellent way for public relations professionals to learn about opportunities. Look at blogs and social network sites for public relations professionals and contact them. They may provide you with some information that can’t be found elsewhere.
In short, exhaust your resources and be creative. In no time you’ll break into the public relations industry.