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Five Top Tips to get into PR

By Will Hart, Deputy Managing Director, Nelson Bostock Unlimited

It’s one of the great joys of working life to be able to offer candidates their first jobs in PR and then seeing them embrace the opportunity and ‘learn to fly’. Here at Nelson Bostock, there are three key things we look for in people (at all levels):

  • Passion – I can’t emphasise enough how critical it is to be genuinely passionate about PR, to fully understand it and believe in what we do professionally. Without passion and discernible enthusiasm, you simply won’t ever stand out from the crowd, make your mark or truly enjoy your career
  • Cultural fit – PR agency life is all about teamwork. We succeed (and even sometimes fail) as teams and your ability to operate within a collective is absolutely critical.  This is not a career for ‘lone wolves’ and we always seek people who both fit in culturally but also bring something new and different into our existing mix (while remaining open to what that something extra might be)
  • Intelligence – working in a PR agency is intense and challenging. We need to act swiftly in a dynamic working environment while handling multiple human interactions and tasks simultaneously. It’s fun and rewarding work but, honestly, you’ve got to be smart to thrive

 
For those seeking to break into PR, here are my top five, practical tips:

Before you get interviewing…

  1. Make sure you both understand what PR is and can convincingly articulate how it differs from advertising and marketing disciplines. Additionally, work hard on building up your knowledge of the PR industry and, critically, the media landscape:
    • Proactively break out of your media/social media bubbles to follow journalists/publications you haven’t before
    • ‘Own’ major real-time issues – right now, for example, in the global tech environment, there is no bigger issue than Facebook’s handling of user data. Anyone wanting to get a first job with us would really impress by being able to replay the arguments for and against Facebook and by having an informed opinion to express when meeting with us face-to-face
  2. Work really hard on your writing, across multiple channels (that are as far away as possible from university essay writing):
    • I’m talking about journalism for a student newspaper, blogging or even short story writing. Writing skills are essential in PR and only improve with practice.  It’ll also be great to be able to point to examples of your work when you get to the interview stage
  3. This is easier said than done, but it’s very much worth it to try in any way you can, using whatever leverage is available (via family, friends, neighbours whatever), to get some relevant experience:
    • Even if it’s just a couple of weeks work experience involving for example writing of any description, social content, marketing or even sales – anything that gives you a taste of relevant office life will be helpful
    • And, of course, whenever you do get a chance, make sure to absolutely smash it and get strong references

       
      Once you get interviewing…

  4. It’s really smart to fully prepare for your interview by properly researching the firm you’re looking to join:
    • I don’t mean simply scanning an agency’s website but actually reading recent blogs and client case studies. Displaying bespoke knowledge goes a long way
    • More generally, be curious and show that curiosity by having lots of (smart) questions – make sure you turn the interview into an interactive discussion
  5. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your interview, in fact ensure that you do:
    • Culture is important for any firm, and absolutely critical for us at Nelson Bostock. Showing us your personality is genuinely important, especially at the entry level
    • Be both confident and honest. you’re not expected to have all the answers or knowledge in your first interview and it’s always ok to say you don’t know rather than try to blag it