Public relations newbies, do not let your summers waste away! The end of August will slowly but surely creep up on you and you don’t want to have nothing to show for it when it does. Use this extra time to prepare and put yourself ahead of others. Being a newbie myself, these are the few things that really helped me get started.
Do Your Research
You don’t have to plan everything out, but researching about the PR field is a good start. Get to know the different sectors and get a heads up on what to expect. Pay attention to the day-to-day responsibilities, potential outlook and opportunities, earnings, and the educational path you need to take to get there.
It’s always important to stay on top of the news and what is going on in the PR field. Put the companies you want to work for on your radar and take note of their latest moves and projects. This will be useful for when you want to apply for a position in their company. You can read their press releases, join their LinkedIn company profile, or subscribe to their Twitter feed.
Perfect Your Cover Letter and Resume
Your cover letter and resume are written first impressions. Use your cover letter to pull potential employers in by providing a brief summary of your experience and what assets you can bring to the table. Stay away from using cliché words and phrases. Keep your letter light and interesting to read. Your resume should complement your letter. This is where you provide a more detailed description of previous education, work experience and responsibilities.
Remember to proofread everything before sending your applications out. Ask others to read it over; they might notice small errors that you may have overlooked.
Do an Internship
PR is all about the internships. Although your academic background is an important factor, previous related work experience is invaluable. Use the internship to start building professional relationships and to learn as much as you can. Soak up everything that happens around you and never be afraid to ask questions or share ideas. The more you put into the position, the more you will get out of it.
An internship is also the perfect opportunity to make personal decisions about what you do and do not want to do in the future. As an intern, you will get to do a little bit of everything so take note on the areas that best suits your skills and interests.
Use your connections and reach out to professionals
Use your connections. A big part of PR is the people you know so it is never too early to start building your network. If there is a PR professional that you have the smallest mutual connection with, don’t be afraid of reach out to them and see if they’re up for setting up an informational meeting or interview. The best way is to reach them through email or twitter.
Since social media has grown to have a large presence in public relations, venture out onto their company’s Facebook or Twitter pages. Leaving smart comments and retweets will show your interest in their company. The point is, get noticed!
With that said, do not pester the person you are trying to reach out to. If they don’t get back to you, it is probably because they are too busy at the moment or they are not interested. Don’t spam them with emails or Facebook likes. When they want to or have the time to respond, they will.
Go On Interviews
Even if you already have in internship secured, go to the interview. Use it to gain the extra experience or see it as practice for future interviews. It also gives you a chance to talk to someone who is currently in the field, so any information or advice you get from them will be useful. Ask questions and keep their feedback in mind.
If you have the time and ability, it never hurts to juggle two internships at once either. And you never know, you might land an internship for fall from one of these interviews!
Start building up your portfolio
A portfolio can help you alongside the cover letter and resume in a job application or interview. Start collecting pieces of your work that best reflect your strengths. If you’re better in writing, put together the short stories that you have written in your free time or the press release assignments from school. If your strengths lie in the visual side, build a portfolio of your animations and artworks. This gives employers a chance to see what you are capable of and what to expect from you as a potential intern.
Expand your LinkedIn profile
Before calling you in for an interview, employers will probably look for your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one already, make one. LinkedIn is a useful online tool that can be used to showcase your work experience and develop a processional online presence. It makes for faster networking and also easier for employers to contact you.
Click here for tips on how to brand yourself on LinkedIn!
Don’t Throw Away Business Cards
If a PR professional gives you their business card, keep it. You might need a favour or someone’s contact info one day.
Written by EDPR intern, Vivian Kwong