Public Relations (PR)

PR (public relations) is all about building, managing and protecting the reputation of your organisation and people. PR provide the narrative, often a positive one, and third parties will be used to influence public opinion to establish a positive impression of the organisation.

Roles tend to be based either in PR agencies or in the communications department of large organisations, although smaller organisations may employ someone in a PR or media relations role.

PR agencies can be either large 'full-service' agencies, meaning they cover all sectors, or smaller specialist agencies which focus on a particular sector, e.g. financial PR, music or public affairs. In larger communications agencies PR professionals may work alongside marketing, advertising and digital media specialists, and the boundaries between these roles are often blurred.

Typically a PR Executive would be liaising with the media, and answering their questions, writing press releases, organising events such as press conferences, undertaking research, and managing social media.

Long working hours and tight deadlines are the norm. Starting salaries tend to be quite low, but there can be good progression opportunities for those who prove themselves.

Getting into the role

A number of large PR agencies and large organisations have graduate schemes in PR and communications. But many more agencies and organisations recruit graduates into entry-level roles on a more ad hoc basis.

Vacancies are advertised on specialist PR job sites but opportunities may be also be found through networking and using LinkedIn and social media.

  • Try to get whatever work experience you can in PR. Few internship vacancies are advertised so consider speculative applications and work shadowing. Recruiters see work experience as evidence for a strong interest and commitment to PR and sometimes it can lead to permanent job offers.
  • Find opportunities to develop and demonstrate your writing, interpersonal and presentation skills, for example, by starting a blog, writing for a student newspaper or becoming a student ambassador.
  • Immerse yourself in the media - print, broadcast and online. Familiarise yourself with different sections of newspapers, TV and radio programmes and blogs, websites and social media.
  • Start networking to build contacts: Attend events, read and comment on PR blogs, follow PR professionals on Twitter and join a professional body.
  • Develop your social media skills: PR professionals use social media to communicate with their audiences in new ways and employers often expect graduates to bring social media knowledge to their organisations

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