Well, it’s that time of year again. A time where one door closes and another opens. A time of “final” finals, moving trucks, and caps and gowns. For those of you experiencing these milestones, it also marks a time of transition. Graduation season is upon us and the “real world” is knocking on the other side of that newly opened door.
Personally, adopting a skill set in PR was a distant thought during my college years. Boston College offered a wonderful communications major, but a concentration in Public Relations was not an option. When I decided to pursue a career in PR, I did my best to prepare myself for what that would entail and now, a year since my own graduation, I have definitely learned a lot. So, from one grad to another, here are five skills you should know about if PR is in your future.
- The Internship
An internship is a tool that will help you feel confident to contribute to a team on day one in the PR world. Most likely, you will learn more from an internship than you would in a classroom, at least in terms of giving the PR lifestyle a test drive. More importantly, it’s what you do during your internship that will make it truly beneficial for you trying to break into the industry in the future.
- The Reading and Research of “Relations”
Anyone thinking about a career in PR understands the importance of practicing and polishing writing skills. However, there’s so much more than just good writing. When you are first applying for a position at a PR agency, it’s customary to check out the agency’s website. What should be mandatory though is to take a closer look at the agency’s client list. Sure, you may skim it over, read through the names, and write a few down to mention during your interview. But, it’s never too early to do the right research to prepare you for what happens if you actually get the position. I can tell you firsthand that you will spend the first few months learning the ins-and-outs of your agency’s clientele, their background, the industry they play in, their offerings, services and go-to-market approach and much much more. Push yourself now by researching the background of your prospective agency’s clients. Become familiar with publications or channels that pertain to the kind of industry you are entering. For example, here at LPP, we work with clients in the technology, healthcare and life sciences industries, so reading articles from publications such as TechCrunch or Wired or Modern Healthcare would help you determine placements for your clients. Reading and researching an agency’s clients are excellent starting points to developing a PR skill set.
- Adaptability is Key
One of the most important skill sets you should have in your PR toolbox is the ability to evolve with the ever-changing environment. A PR professional needs to think strategically. This means not only thinking about your day-to-day interactions, but also about thinking longer-term. Of course, there will always be unexpected situations or events that you will encounter, but possessing the critical PR skill of being adaptable will help you in effectively handling whatever comes along.
Bonus Tip: Mastering the art of time management and setting up “alerts” in your email will help you maintain your daily tasks efficiently, so that when something unanticipated comes up, you can easily handle it.
- Social Media Master
Throughout college, you have probably developed your own social media footprint –using Facebook, posting on Instagram, Tweeting, searching for jobs on LinkedIn, maybe even blogging. Being proficient in using social tools and platforms is relevant to a majority of clients and organizations who are looking for PR reps to manage their brand voices across these channels. Understanding how to navigate and execute social media tools, especially in terms of driving traffic from one channel to another or engaging effectively are significant skills for PR hopefuls today.
Bonus Tip: Take a shot at becoming familiar with ways of analyzing social media channels, i.e. apps or platforms for reporting activity, sentiment, audience growth, etc.
- PR is for the Extroverts
While social media is effective today in shaping a clients’ brand, your greatest strength in PR will always be the relationships you build in your field. PR is a network of interactions with your colleagues, clients, and media. This means working with multiple people and personality types every day. Devoting time to growing interpersonal relationships with a wide variety of people is imperative to a career in PR. Your network is only as strong as the relationships you maintain and as a PR professional you are only as strong as your network.
Congrats to the class of 2014! We look forward to working with you in the future!