How to Kickstart Your Career in PR

PR and Events

How to Kickstart Your Career in PR

by Ellen Grimshaw

Are you thinking about entering a career in PR? In this post, we will talk you through the different things that you’re going to need to do to try and get your foot in the door. Touching on everything from education to internships.

From using your current job to your advantage to keeping your skills up to scratch, no stone will be left unturned. Hopefully this will inspire you with helpful tips to start chasing that Public Relations dream. 

Study, study, study!

There are ways to get into PR without formal qualifications. In saying that, you should consider gaining some form of educational background in the field. Hence, by doing this you will definitely set yourself apart from other candidates who are lacking qualifications when you’re applying for jobs. Plus, it will give you a good foundation of understanding what PR is and the different elements of the subject. 

Get that Degree girl 

Moreover, if you’re considering University there are SO MANY PR related courses across the UK & Ireland. Specifically check out UCAS or CAO for an enormous range of Undergraduate courses. The wonderful thing about PR degrees is the course content usually overlaps with Marketing and Advertising. Hence, if you’re passionate about studying PR, during the same time you’ll also get the opportunity to touch upon different subjects. Particularly, this is important because PR and Marketing do collide in the working world. 

If you’ve already been to University a Postgraduate course could be an option for you. Additionally, a huge amount of Universities offer Masters in PR so it’s definitely worth looking into. Don’t worry if your undergrad wasn’t in PR or Marketing related subject. Quite often you just need a 2:1 in any Undergraduate degree subject to be accepted into a PR Postgraduate course. 

Go your own way 

Generally, the idea of doing a Postgraduate course can be off putting to many people though. It is expensive and potentially difficult to manage around work and other commitments. Nevertheless, fear not. Luckily there are other options and it doesn’t matter if you went to University or not! The Chartered Institute of Public Relations is a world renowned organisation that offers a variety of training courses & qualifications for a variety of levels. As previously stated, it can be a little pricey, however it would work out less expensive than a postgrad in the long run. Make sure you consider all your options. 

Ladies, please do not be disheartened if you can’t afford to study formally or don’t have the time to commit to a lengthy course. There are loads of brilliant websites with short classes and webinars most of which are FREE! Check out Skillshare & search Public Relations for loads of great little classes that will help you boost your knowledge and CV! 

Do a little bit of research into the PR community in your local area. For example, I am from Northern Ireland so I can only really speak from my experience of living here. Fortunately we have the amazing ‘Lunchtime Learning’, in brief it is a series of workshops and webinars that go into a range of Marketing and PR topics. Whilst these aren’t formal qualifications, there’s hour long sessions with lots of nuggets of info designed to help you enhance your skills. Give it a go and discover what your City has to offer! 

Bag that internship or volunteer 

Experience is everything. Whether you are still in school, university or a full time worker there are opportunities for you to get that PR experience. You just have to know where to look. 

Loads of different companies offer internships. Simple search engine searches could put you on track for finding one. These internships could range from a variety of lengths from a few weeks to up to a year. If you’re lucky, your internship could result in a permanent job with the company, so make a good impression. Make sure you reach out to companies to enquire about internships. Just because it’s not advertised on their website doesn’t mean they won’t consider hiring an intern.

Send out those emails

MESSAGE EVERYONE. Reach out to; PR Agencies. They undertake the PR activity for numerous companies in a wide range of industries. Where better to learn your craft than from the professionals? Consider messaging Private Sector Hospitality groups or Leisure companies. Chances are they’ll all  have in-house PR departments. Make sure you don’t forget about your local Council, I can guarantee they’ll have a PR department. The Public Sector is a great way to go, contact your Police and Fire Services or even the Electricity companies, it might not sound glamorous but they are often open to taking interns if they don’t already run official internship programmes. 

I personally, especially as I have gotten older, believe that you shouldn’t have to work for free. Whilst many awesome companies pay their interns I understand that a lot don’t. (I myself have undertaken unpaid internships) Despite this, I believe that if internships aren’t paying you a wage for your time they should at least be covering your travel expenses. However, if you are in the position where you can donate some of your working time without payment, I personally would work with a Charity. There are literally thousands of charities out there that you could contact about a PR internship. Even if you are just interning with them for four hours a week for a few months is still a valuable experience! 

Stay in the know 

Make sure you stay up to date with what is going on in the world of PR. The good thing is this doesn’t cost a penny. Get into the habit of weekly reading on a PR news website, like my favourite PR Week. As a result, this will enhance your knowledge of innovative practices and additionally will also give you firsthand industry examples should you get asked about your favourite PR campaigns in an interview.

By reading up on what’s happening is always going to benefit you. It might put new PR agencies or companies on your radar. Follow their socials, connect with them on LinkedIn, enquire about internship or work experience opportunities. Oh and of course, keep up to date with what the Girls In Marketing Blog and Socials have to say about PR. 

Look a little closer to home 

Just relating things again to my personal experience, I am a PR & Events Manager for a Hospitality group. In short, I literally got my current job because I was a bartender for the company and then proceed to show an interest in their PR department! A prime example of ‘its not what you know it’s who you know.’

In summary, if you currently have a job, ask your manager for advice for getting into PR within the company you work for. They might be able to help you get an internship or even new PR responsibilities within your job role. Take things into your own hands and let them know what you could offer them whilst gaining industry experience that you’re passionate about! 

Keep on keeping on 

Let’s be real, it is a fiercely competitive world out there. But, it is possible to get a foot in the PR industry. Educate yourself, keep learning your craft and take all the opportunities you can get.