The PRCA defines Public Relations as being “all about the way organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves, and build a positive reputation and public image”. But what does that really mean? And could it be the career for you?
Inspired by some recent conversations with students considering a career in PR and our own work experience students, here’s a few thoughts from us if you’re considering a career in comms.
A natural gift for the spoken and written word, or a degree (whether in communications, PR, or any of the humanities) will stand you in good stead in terms of the ability to deliver high quality work, but there are other skills that are just as important.
Empathy – the ability to understand what your client wants, and what their audience wants, in order to create the bridge between the two (not forgetting to balance those wants and needs against those of your colleagues, employer and existing clients).
Attention to detail – whether you’re representing Brand You applying for work experience or jobs or representing a client, proof, proof and proof again! Don’t give your reader the excuse to ignore your message because of poor presentation.
Time management – because stories are often time-sensitive in their relevance, because everyone has some kind of deadline to meet and because, simply put, time is money. The ability to plan your time effectively, to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines is key. If you don’t want or don’t like to work under pressure, this probably isn’t the job for you.
While it helps to have a natural leaning towards those behaviours, all those softer skills can be developed over time. At entry level to an agency, anything you do will be supervised by more senior colleagues so there will always be an opportunity to ask for advice and guidance.
There are practical steps you can take as of now if you’re seriously considering a future in PR. Start by being an active consumer of media yourself, so that you understand the changing landscape, different platforms and writing styles. If you already have a particular passion that you’d like to focus on – maybe technology, or travel and tourism like us, pursue it by honing in on outlets that specialise in that sector.
Digital marketing and social media are an essential part of today’s media landscape so keep up with latest developments here too. Seeking out opportunities to set up or help with a business account can be a useful exercise in developing different tones of voice.
If that all sounds like you, and you’re still reading, here’s a quick ‘Day in the Life’ based on today’s activities to illustrate how all of those skills come into play on any one day.
I started my day as I always do with a quick check on current affairs affecting the PR sector, and sectors that I have current clients in. I also like to get a swift overview of what’s happening on our social media channels so that I can respond quickly to any requiring action. Then it’s time to look at the rest of the day’s planned activity to make sure priorities are being, well, prioritised.
This morning, I have outlined the itinerary for a press trip on behalf of a hotel client, reviewed an award entry and created the media list for a new holiday letting client (and written this blog).
This afternoon I have some more work to do on the details of a campaign plan for one client, along with a post-campaign report to finalise for another.
In short, it certainly helps to be able to juggle in this job! Essentially, a PR’s role is to help clients to achieve their own objectives, and it’s a privilege to be able to work with businesses to leverage the power of PR to do just that.