Five ways to get into PR
By Eva Gallagher
Want to get into Public Relations (PR)? Getting your foot in the door can take time and patience but with a good attitude and a little bit of social media savvy you can give yourself a leg up on the career ladder. Here are our top five ways to get into PR…
Go the academic route
PR is a fast-paced, highly competitive field. Completing a certificate, diploma or degree in communications will expand your career possibilities and teach you valuable workplace skills. Many post-secondary institutions offer specific public relations programs designed to cover the basics for becoming a successful PR practitioner. These public relations programs include essential courses such as media relations, public relations, crisis communications, and social media. Complementing these fundamentals with courses like journalism, creative writing, integrated marketing communications, graphic design, and even public speaking, can ensure that you are a well-rounded candidate upon your time of graduation. Having a diverse academic background will give you a competitive advantage when applying for internships, volunteer work and paid positions. Some examples of schools in the Lower Mainland that offer programs and courses such as these include Capilano University, BCIT, and Simon Fraser University.
Get interested in interning
A great way to get a foot in the door and build relationships with potential employers is to complete an internship. Post-secondary prepares you with the knowledge necessary for the working world but there is nothing like on-the-job training to hone your PR skills. Working in a fast-paced agency or in-house PR environment teaches you multi-tasking, time management and accountability for your work. Interning demonstrates enthusiasm and that you are interested in learning everything you can. Completing a PR internship not only enhances your resume but also offers a trial run to feel out the industry and decide if a career in PR is right for you. Bonus – sometimes internships transition into entry-level PR positions! A great place to find internship positions online is by following Lesley Chang on Twitter. She posts daily about available jobs and internships in PR and marketing.
Add some value with volunteering
A valuable way to enhance your public relations knowledge and help out the community is by participating in volunteer work. Non-profit organizations, schools and hospitals are examples of places that accept volunteers on a consistent basis. Choose an opportunity that sparks your interest: the more enthusiastic you are about the organization and what they represent, the more you will gain from your volunteer position. Volunteer work gives you the opportunity to further develop your public relations knowledge, learn new skills, network, and engage with your community. Some helpful places to search for volunteer positions are websites such as Go Volunteer and Charity Village.
Go Volunteer and Charity Village have a plethora of volunteer opportunities and the webpages allow you to narrow your search results to show PR-specific positions.
Volunteer positions are unpaid but can prove to be equally as valuable as a paid position. The connections you make, the knowledge you acquire, and the experience you achieve will benefit you and your public relations career long term.
Get a CPRS Vancouver student membership
The Canadian Public Relations Society of Vancouver is a networking and professional development organization serving public relations and communications practitioners in British Columbia. Joining as a student member serves as a bridge between your formal education and the communications business world. Listed on their webpage is information regarding credible post-secondary institutions that offer PR programs in the Lower Mainland, as well as volunteer opportunities. With your membership you will receive email updates about upcoming conferences, networking events, and scholarship opportunities. Your membership is good for a year from your date of joining and opens the door to opportunities you may not otherwise be able to access as a newcomer into the PR industry.
Create a presence on social media
Creating a strong online presence can be an asset when looking for a career in PR. Developing engaging, appropriate and relevant content on your social media platforms can put you at an advantage and show you can sell yourself and know how to communicate in the rapidly-developing digital world. Exercising your writing skills is crucial to having a successful PR career: keeping your social media up to date, writing a blog, or interacting with media professionals are all great ways to showcase your writing strengths and show you have an understanding of how the industry works.