PR is becoming increasingly popular as a career choice amongst Australians, with a Bachelor of Communications ranking in the top 10 trending courses for 2014*.
In practical terms, a qualification in Communications may lead to roles within Marketing, Social Media, Public Relations, Corporate Affairs or Government Relations. So if your passion lies in crafting and communicating messages that change the way people think, feel and act, how do you get a good job – one that pays well and brings fulfilment to your life?
Based on 18 years+ PR industry experience gained in International and local markets (where I’ve interviewed many people starting out and hired only a few), I’ve shared the top three things I believe will help you to get ahead:
1. Be relevant
Graduates who have gained experience working in PR during their degree often cite how different their academic studies are to the workplace. A three month internship working at least three days a week will mean your expectations about the type of work you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis will be in line with your future employer’s. Plus, the more days you’re in the office, the more likely it is that the team will give you real responsibilities and your own project to run – an opportunity the interns who work just one or two days a week just don’t get offered.
2. Use your initiative
This job is all about problem solving. Whether it’s how to launch a new product with maximum editorial impact and social share, or balancing revenue with staff hires; the challenges simply change in nature the higher up the ladder you climb. So if you can go to your manager with a problem as well as a couple of credible, considered ways in which it could be solved, your talent and your positive attitude will go a really long way when it comes to reward and recognition. It also helps you stretch yourself out of what can often be mundane administrative tasks when you’re starting out and gives you a sense of the more interesting work you’ll be doing in a year or two.
3. Know what’s happening
Keeping up with the news of the day is so easy these days with content delivered to your device in real time. Despite this, I’ve been surprised to read a client’s story in the newspaper at lunchtime that the Account Executive hasn’t picked up earlier in the day.
When the media and public’s views can make or break a brand or business’ reputation, there is nothing more important that spotting a breaking story and sharing it with the relevant stakeholders, certainly not some office admin or media list that your Account Manager told you was urgent. Learn to negotiate your deadlines so you can juggle multiple priorities.
No one expects you to know it all and most employers will make allowances for your need to learn on the job. Listening well and observing the habits of the people around you admire are the best ways to immerse yourself in your chosen career and get to the top in the time you desire.