A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hosting Tim Massie, Chief Public Affairs Officer and an Adjunct Professor of Communications at Marist College (my alma matter) for a brief visit to Kaplow. Tim is one of my friends and mentors, and he brought a class of senior public relations majors with him to discuss PR, social media and finding a job in the field post-college. I’d done a similar trip with Tim back when I was a senior student in his class and felt it was immensely valuable in preparing to start my career (no pressure!).
While I likely rambled on for way too long about Skype and foursquare, below are the three key points of advice that I hope resonated with the class regarding finding a job in the ever-evolving field of public relations:
1. Participate in Internships
Especially with the economy still on the rebound, entry-level candidates need to do everything they can to show that they have relevant, real-world experience. Strong internships are the best way to get that experience. My internship at World Wrestling Entertainment was a key differentiator and definitely set me apart from other candidates when I had just graduated.
2. Have Social Media Presence (and Keep it Clean)
PR is evolving and becoming more involved in the online world, but one thing hasn’t changed: your reputation is everything. Working at an agency, you will be a representative of the brands you work on, and employers often look at the social media presences of applicants to ensure they aren’t offensive. You might think that your Facebook photo where you have a Corona in each hand, a blunt in your mouth and your shirt off is pretty awesome, but it is definitely not going to score you an interview. Keep your public photo and content clean, and keep everything else set to private.
3. Do Your Research
Conducting research can be key in both getting in the door and during the interview process. Agencies (and employers in general) want to know that you really do want to work for THEM, and that you want THAT particular job, not just that you want A job. You can help strengthen your case here by conducting research before submitting your CV/resume.
Check out the agency’s website to see what their focus areas are and what clients they service; Google search the company’s name to see what new business they’ve won recently (or, check on PR news trades like PRWeek and PR Newser which often list these wins); and finally, check LinkedIn to see who works at the firm.