Getting a job in public relations can often seem like a glamorous choice – travelling, working with high-profile clients, maybe even celebrities – but it can be stressful and it’s certainly not for everyone. Before you decide to embark on this path, you need to be sure you are the right kind of person to cope with the challenges this sector can throw at you.
A career in public relations involves a lot more than you might think: It is not just about marketing a person or brand. To succeed in this industry, you need communication skills and the confidence to talk convincingly to a wide range of people. You will almost certainly have to give presentations to clients, as well as liaising with journalists or other groups, so if you are the shy retiring type you may find it difficult. It also helps to have strong writing skills as you may well be called upon to put together press releases, newsletters and other promotional material.
Creativity is also an essential attribute. Many a UK PR agency is involved in the building of a brand from the outset – including aspects such as product development, packaging, in-store placement - not just the marketing side of things. This being the case, do you think you would be able to contribute effectively to brainstorming sessions to come up with original ideas? Above all, this requires the confidence to put your ideas across and not be embarrassed if they seem a little ‘out-there’.
Organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure are also a must. PR work doesn’t come in a steady stream like some jobs. You may have periods of relative calm followed by a frantic few days trying to organise an event or product launch, etc. This means you must be prepared to work flexibly – even staying late at weekends and during the evening if the project in hand demands it.
Still interested? Then you will benefit enormously from some kind of business qualification. Whilst it isn’t an absolute essential, a UK PR agency will tend to prefer its employees to have a bachelor’s degree in communications, English language, journalism or public relations. Of course, nothing can compare to on-the-job experience but with the increasing competition in this market today you may find yourself at a disadvantage alongside other candidates if you have no formal training.
You should also research the kinds of roles that appeal to you: Do you see yourself as a media analyst? A marketing executive? Try to speak to people already working in the industry to get a feel for the pleasures and pitfalls of such positions.
Whilst there is fierce competition for such roles, trying to land yourself an internship at a PR company is a great way of getting a feel for the industry, and is also a good way of establishing contacts or finding a mentor – an invaluable asset when you’re starting out.
If variety is important to you when making a career choice then public relations could be the right path for you. There are certain skills you need your foot in the door there are wide and exciting range of roles to choose from.