This guest blog comes from PR Fire a Press Release Distribution and Content Marketing Agency. Written by Director & Founder, Sam Allcock, he shares the knowledge he’s gained from 15 years in the industry.
Landing your first job can feel scary – especially if you’re doing a complete career change, or starting with no experience.
But it is possible; you can land a job in PR without tons of experience.
In fact, you’ve likely already got skills that can serve you in your first PR job. And, it’s easy to get some basic experience to prepare you for that first role.
In this guide, we’ll talk about:
Ready? Let’s get to it.
Before we dive in, let’s start by taking a look at a day in the life of a PR professional.
It’s a PR person’s job to take care of a brand’s image. It’s their responsibility to get coverage in media such as newspapers or online publications, and think of new and exciting ideas to help them raise awareness for the brand.
(PR agencies are the same, except you might be doing that for a range of different businesses.)
Somebody working in PR typically works on jobs like:
Everybody on your PR team cobbles together to get those tasks done. But, the exact tasks each individual person does depends on their role.
Typically, there are four types of jobs when it comes to PR:
There’s no doubt that working in PR means you’ll need to have a specific set of skills.
However, there is some good news: you probably already have those skills. You can pick them up through other non-PR-related jobs or side projects.
For example: an essential skill you’ll need for a successful PR career is communication. In your daily job, you’ll be talking on the phone with journalists, working with your team, and sometimes communicating with clients.
Poor communication can sabotage all of those tasks, and put your PR campaign on the back burner. Yet you might’ve already picked up and developed that skill from a previous job.
Somebody working in PR needs to be able to communicate not just face-to-face, but in written form, too.
You’ll be writing lots of content in your PR job, including emails, press releases, and coverage reports. Poor writing skills might mean you suffer with landing coverage, in the first place. After all, how can you land coverage for a press release that’s badly written?
The final important skill for a successful PR career is creativity. A huge part of your job is finding ways to secure coverage; you don’t always land that by taking the most obvious strategy.
For example: what happens when your great idea doesn’t perform as well as you’d expected? Or your press release gets overpowered by a breaking news story? Or your client pushes back on an idea you’re confident about?
Creativity will see you through all of those incidents.
Some universities offer degrees in public relations. They teach you the basics (like writing a press release and getting coverage), but also promise to dive deeper into psychology and brainstorm PR campaigns that are more likely to work, scientifically.
However, research shows that just 17% of PR practitioners have degrees in either PR or communications.
That’s because of the important skills we just talked about.
You can work on your writing, communication, and creativity skills with other jobs. They’re three versatile skills that you can develop from any job—hence why over half (57%) of people currently working in PR have degrees in a completely different subject.
The bottom line is that official PR qualifications don’t matter.
What’s more important is whether you’ve got the skills needed to be a successful PR executive—and the experience to back it up.
Ready to get your first PR job?
Even if you’ve got no experience (and aren’t really sure where to start), here are five simple steps to help you land your first job in public relations.
Earlier, we mentioned that most PR professionals don’t actually have a qualification in public relations. So, how did they land their job?
The answer: through experience.
Experience is everything when it comes to PR. The people hiring for their PR team want to know that the person has some idea of what they’re doing—it’ll give them some confidence knowing they’re hiring someone with the basics.
But here’s where the good news really comes in: you can land your first PR job without any professional experience. You can take your experience into your own hands, and start to build your knowledge without an official PR job.
For example, you can:
Once you’ve got some PR experience, you should start to focus on building relationships.
This includes relationships with journalists—the people who’ll give your business coverage on their newspaper or website.
The easiest way to do this is to start following journalists on social media. Look at the publications you’d love to get coverage on (such as The Mirror or The Lad Bible), then search LinkedIn to find journalists who work there. Start engaging with their posts.
That way, you start to build recognition with them—which could help secure coverage when you start pitching press releases to them.
But you should also start to build relationships with other people, too.
The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” really comes into full force when you’re working in public relations.
Why? Because you can get coverage (and help with PR ideas) from your network.
Let’s say you’re writing a press release for a client, for example. You can use your network to get quotes from other people—potentially boosting the chances of getting coverage because your content seems less biased.
(The same applies in reverse: you can contribute quotes to other people’s press releases and get coverage or links off the back of it.)
Strong relationships are the best-kept secret in PR. Remember that before you start applying for your first PR job; it’s a huge advantage to have a black book of contacts when trying to beat other people for the same job.
You’ve got experience to back-up your skills. Next, you’ll need to search for a place to work (if you don’t already have one in mind, that is.)
You can find PR jobs by searching media job boards. Often run by the publications PR professionals read, it’s a great way to sift through job postings and see which companies are hiring.
Here are some popular PR job board options to help you get started:
Once you find one you like, shoot your CV and cover letter, making sure each plays to the skills and experience a hiring manager would want to see.
Managed to land an interview for a PR job you recently applied for? Awesome!
Next, you’ll need to do some research on the company itself. This will help you during the interview process—and make sure you’re not caught off guard by any questions. (It’ll help you show off, too, because you’ll be able to talk about them.)
The simplest way to do this is by figuring out where they get coverage, and which type of content they use to do so.
Head over to Google and search their brand name in quotation marks.
Then, select the “News” tab. This shows all the pieces of coverage they’ve secured which contains their brand name:
Applying to work at a PR agency? You should also look at their clients, and scan the agency’s website for tips that might help you during the interview.
This includes answers to questions like:
Knowing this before your interview means helps you prove you actually know what you’re talking about—even if you don’t have any PR experience.
Plus, you can prepare a list of questions to ask at the end of the job interview based on things you couldn’t find during your research.
Got an invite to interview? Great job—but you’re not finished yet.
You might have 8 other people interviewing for the same PR executive role. You’ll need to spend some time practising the common questions your interviewer might ask, including:
As you can see, landing your first job in PR doesn’t have to be daunting.
You can pull skills from other areas, and create your own experience, to help you get your first professional role. Just make sure to rely on your connections, research the company you’re applying to work for, and prepare for your interview.
There’s no reason why you can’t land your dream public relations job.
Written by Sam Allcock
Director & Founder of @prfire Press Release Distribution and Content Marketing Agency. As seen in @hubspot @marketingprofs @prweek and @smbizceo
If your time spent in Covid-19 lockdown has been a time of reflection and left you thinking about a return to study our Graduate Advocate, Fiona Hough, a former mature student has some great advice…
Returning to Education
Thinking about returning to education as a mature learner can be a very scary prospect, with many prospective students put off. The ideas of organising student finance, not studying in an academic setting for a while and concern at “being the oldest” in class can be off putting for some.
So why do it?
Mature learners have several reasons for returning to education. These reasons can include wanting to change careers to something completely different (such as taking a postgraduate course in teaching, or taking an undergraduate course to become a social worker), wanting better prospects in a current career and a degree would therefore be beneficial, and sometimes, just wanting to learn a subject that’s always been of interest!
As well as those reasons for returning to do either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, on average people with degrees earn more over their lifetimes than those without, so this is another benefit to returning to study.
It’s not just study
University also offers societies to join and many will have a Mature Students society to join where you can meet and chat. But there’s so many more to join than just that one. From Harry Potter Societies and David Attenborough Appreciation societies to traditional style societies such as sports, debate and film to more intriguing ones such as the 30 Minute Society (where you are simply sent a post code and have 30 minutes to get there and the activity there is free). There are societies that cover almost every interest, and if there isn’t one for your interest you can always create it!
Money money money….
Finance is always a concern for students of all ages, but for mature students, it’s generally the biggest concern and a huge barrier to returning to education, so this blog will concentrate on this barrier.
For first time undergraduates, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to pay tuition fees up front. The majority of first time undergraduates will be eligible for the Tuition Fee loan from the Government and you don’t start repaying the loan until you’re employed and earning over £26,575.
You may also be eligible for a Maintenance Loan which is based if your personal circumstances, and depending on those personal living circumstances, may reduce the need to work whilst studying. However for some people stopping working is either not possible or they don’t want to stop working whilst studying.
If you fall into this category, there’s plenty of other options. If you’re already working, you can ask to reduce your hours and study part-time to fit around that, maintaining an income whilst studying. You can also look at jobs that fit around your course hours. Supermarkets and bars are great for looking at part time hours. Jobs on the university campus are really great for this. There will be a range of roles and hours on the university campus, from student ambassadors to library assistants to catering assistants to sports centre staff. There’s pretty much a part time job for everyone. The best part about working for the university you attend is the understanding when you have an assignment or dissertation to complete and the dreaded deadlines are creeping up. Being employed by the university itself generally gives more leeway if you need to reduce your hours to spend more time completing assignments.
Other places to look for financial help….
As well as working and Student Finance England, there can be other places to look for financial help. The internet is great for searching for charities that offer assistance for students from all circumstances. Charities such as The Princes Trust also offer a list of resources to use to apply for assistance when studying in Higher Education.
My last advice is this, if you want to do it, go for it. Returning to education after a period of time away can be daunting and scary to start with, but once you’re at graduation holding your degree certificate, it’s all worth it!
The academic year is normally a predictable cycle of, starting in October, Christmas, Easter, Summer, repeat until graduation. This time round its different. I choose the word different because of Covid-19 means that we have to behave differently: socially isolating wherever practical. Consequently, this will have largely changed all of our plans for at least the summer.
Difference and change by their nature do not mean stop, shut-down or impossible, they mean adaption, improvisation and proactivity.
Consequently, this blog is all about getting around the challenges Covid-19 has put in front of us while still improving your career portfolio by sourcing experience opportunities that:
Research Project: data-inputting, transcribing documents, mapping, monitoring wildlife videos, for projects across a range of disciplines.
Future Learn offers free short online courses on a range of topics delivered by universities around the world.
InsideSherpa offer free programmes for students to participate in hypothetical job simulations, completing tasks and accessing learning resources. They have worked with a number of companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Citi, KPMG, Deloitte and Linklatters. When signing up to their programmes please be mindful of their Data Collection Statement.
Covid Mutual Aid is helping to co-ordinate community help and support activities.
Do-It.org provides a wide range of volunteering opportunities and provides a search engine to help find activities based on your career passions and helping interests.
Accenture Baker McKenzie Citi ClickDo
Deloitte EY JP Morgan KPMG
Latham& Watkins Pinsent Masons White & Case
Next Step Support is a career resource dedicated to helping students and graduates from university careers services and graduate recruiters.
As always, the Careers and Employability is here to help, even in these difficult times. You can access us, via email, telephone or video call by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org as well as My Careers Centre.
If you’re graduating from a QTS course or PGCE this year there’s still plenty of support from teaching agencies for your NQT year.
Remember, the Careers team are still here for students and graduates so if you feel unsure about your career, you can always get in touch with us for a chat. Email email@example.com and we’ll be able to help.
With offices across England and Wales, and teams specialising in permanent recruitment and long term and emergency supply cover, CER is the go-to education recruitment company.
From early years to further education, SEN to leaders in education, our experienced teams specialise in making sure every school, academy, college, nursery or free school has the temporary and permanent staff it needs to give their students the education they deserve.
EduStaff is a specialist education recruitment consultancy providing only long-term and permanent teaching roles in primary, secondary and SEN schools in the UK. We believe in the importance of long-term relationships and stability, which is why we do not work with daily supply.
We deliver the right candidate to the right school, every time.
Hays Education has a team of 200 specialist consultants, in 32 offices, working with over 4,000 schools, colleges and nurseries across the UK; filling over 8,000 temporary and permanent, education and teaching jobs.
We work exclusively with over 1,000 schools and colleges giving you access to the latest supply teaching jobs, long term or permanent teaching jobs.
Milk Education is a specialist education recruitment agency providing quality supply talent to nurseries & schools across Merseyside, Midlands and Greater Manchester.
Whether you are looking for a new teaching role, a new support position or want access to the right teaching personnel for your school, our specialist consultants will work with you to partner and deliver supply solutions that match.
We know from experience that your NQT year is a pivotal point in your career. We are here to ensure that your first permanent teaching position is the right one for you.
Our extensive pre-screening process will ensure that we only speak to you about positions that fall within the requirements that you initially specify.
Success depends on the people around you. We believe in the power of people: our goal is to help unlock a world of exciting career opportunities for our candidates whilst ensuring our clients have top class support at all times.
At Randstad, we have been helping teachers and support staff just like you find temporary and permanent jobs in education for more than 20 years.
We have an established reputation as one of the leading service providers in the North West. Our consultancy, training and professional development allows schools and settings to be the best they can be.
Developed in collaboration with Liverpool schools, we work with educational professionals at all stages of their career to find rewarding jobs across the phases in Liverpool and across Merseyside.
SupplyWell is changing the way schools recruit teachers and keep all of their staff #TeachingHappy. We believe that ALL teachers should be treated and paid fairly, with access to perks and benefits they don’t usually get.
We want teachers to love teaching…all the time! At SupplyWell we work with our partner schools to ensure that wellbeing is central to both your and the schools success.
We recruit and supply teachers and other support staff for primary, secondary and SEND schools and other learning institutions. Our branches are located all across the country. We are always looking to recruit experienced and newly qualified teachers, teaching assistants (TAs), higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs), cover supervisors and other school support staff for day-to-day supply, short and long-term placements and permanent jobs.
Our consultants are knowledgeable about the current educational climate and the challenges that teachers and support staff face. We develop close relationships with teachers and schools to understand their needs.
My name is Jacob Sanderson, I completed a Business Management degree at Hope University between the period of 2016-2019. I am local to the Childwall area and stayed at home during my time at Hope. I completed my degree with a grade of a 2:1 and I am hoping to go back to complete a master’s at Hope in the future.
Who do I work for and what is my job role?
I work for the organization Growth Platform; we are a non-profit organization with the aim to support people and businesses in the Liverpool City Region. Growth Platform has been established by the Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership to simplify and strengthen the City Region’s business investment and growth landscape, making it easier for business to invest, grow and generate more and better jobs for our residents.
I work within the business growth team in as a Business Growth Executive, which is a graduate role. The purpose of my role is to support my team members with day to day work and projects which gives me a wide wealth of experience in different sectors. Regarding personal job tasks, I currently gather business intelligence from each Liverpool City Region borough on a weekly basis about issues that are affecting businesses (most recently leaving the EU and COVID-19). The intelligence I gather is constructed into a report that is sent into government. I am also currently working on a project surrounding Inclusive growth and Good/Ethical Business within the region.
The Journey to my Job Read More
Under the current cloud of Covid-19, sourcing and securing employment is a whole new challenge, both in terms of available jobs and the recruitment process per se. The purpose of today’s blog is:
I will broadly outline the different types of job-search sources, searching technique and some practical tips on planning…I expect it will be of no surprise to you that our focus will be on online sources.
I hear transferable skills thrown around by academics, students and employers without any grounding on a daily basis. However, I do see strong similarities between the skills you use for assessed work at university and in securing employment.
This is a pivotal question and in the long run will be most effective. Having a specified range of jobs saves time in terms of knowing where to look, what to use and in some cases you can recycle elements of previous research and applications.
The purpose of work is also important. Are you looking for part-time, full-time, casual or temporary? Is it a short-term job while you study, a stepping stone role or a longer-term ‘career job’?
Every job-search engine has its usages, so does Indeed. However, Indeed isn’t a one-stop shop (I’m not convinced that there is one) and shouldn’t be used as one. Below is a list of search-engines alongside how I recommend you use them.
At the bottom of each job profile you will find direct links to specialist recruitment sites and organisations. This is ideal for somebody with one profession in mind.
If you are aware of the type of profession you would like to work in and know some of the leading organisations that recruit them, then this could also be an effective tactic.
Job vacancies can vary in title name and level so don’t limit yourself before you’ve even started. Be creative with your word-searches and keep an open-mind to entry-level and junior roles too – in the long-run this could be the quickest way to your primary goal and further progression.
The hidden job market describes recruitment that is typically not advertised and doesn’t usually follow the formal process of cv, application form and interview. Although there isn’t a fixed figure, at least 50% of all appointments to jobs are made this way. That can include:
Internal appointments Friends and acquaintances
Experience workers Recruiters
Although I would certainly advocate for search-engines as your primary approach hidden jobs tell us that there are other techniques to consider such as:
Informal conversations and networking Incite days
Volunteering and shadowing Training opportunities
Internships and placements Recruiters
1. Be clear about the types of jobs that you are looking for. Use the most effective search platform or method for that.
2. Have a list of all possible differences in the job title name to avoid missing out.
3. Keep a job diary – this will come in handy when employers get back in touch with you regarding interviews. This is also a helpful way to determine how suitable you are for a type of job and if you are getting the most out of your CV and application form technique.
4. Maintain a consistent approach to your job search. For example, Monday could be your designated job-search day, Tuesday, networking and experience and the remainder of the week applying for jobs.
5. Make sure that you are suitable for the job you intend to apply for – check the person-specification for this.
6. Save all job descriptions, person specifications and application forms you’ve applied for, for the purpose of interview planning.
As always, the Careers and Employability is here to help, even in these difficult times. You can access us, via email, telephone or video call by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org as well as My Careers Centre.