Getting a job is the top priority for every graduate. What we forget is that we have an average of 40 years of toil ahead of us (assuming the retiring age is 60). While the West have adopted the concept of gap year and summers spent in foreign countries touring and doing charity work for leisure and personal growth, the Kenyan society leaves no room for such ‘time wasting’ activities. We are taught to hit the ground running.
In the market today it is almost impossible to get anything above an internship position in an organization without more than two years experience in your resume. That is not all; there are a few more accomplishments you should have in order to score that entry level PR job.
For many Communications courses, an internship is a graduation requirement. One needs to be able to gather a wealth of experience from these internships. Aim to work with large organizations with established PR departments or well known PR firms. Here you can gain adequate experience in campaign and account management, pitching and other PR functions. In short, the employer wants to see ‘real work’ done.
This does not refer to your personal Facebook posts and tweets. To be hired in PR one should ideally have majored in Journalism, English, PR or any Communications course that leans heavily toward writing. For your first job interview you should be able to walk in with any (or all) of the following.
- Research reports or public relations plans
- Writing samples- articles on a variety of subjects, blog posts, press release, and part of or an entire media kit.
- New media writing samples- Facebook updates, tweets and blog posts which you posted on behalf of an organization.
- Sample articles- these could be online or print newspapers or magazine articles (especially if they were published)
Don’t wait for the day after your graduation to find an internship or volunteer position to build your portfolio on the above requirements of an entry level public relations job. Aim to do most or all the above while you are still in campus. You could start small; helping out a family member or friend with their business or volunteering at a non-profit organization.
Social Media Experience
Though not as important, a large number of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media is an indication that you are proficient in the use of these tools. Individual clients and organizations are looking for people who can manage their brand through creating a unique voice across multiple communication channels. You many also want to get acquainted with Pinterest, Tumblr or Vine. The client is not interested in how funny or interesting your posts are but your efficiently in handling these tools. Make sure that during your internship you master the use of these mediums to increase audience traffic to the organization’s online sites. An added bonus is learning how to use the analytic tools on these platforms
This is not to make yourself feel inadequate but in the future, or even as you seek employment, multimedia experience will make you irresistible to any potential employer. Below are a few skills that stand out from top resumes:
- Knowing about SEO and how to conduct keyword research to increase blog and website visibility on search engines.
- If you have a blog, knowing how to generate revenue (through ads or use of AdWords). This shows ability to set up and customize a blog.
- Knowing how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or a similar image editing software tools. These skills are relevant in public relations and content marketing.
- Knowing how to shoot, edit and post videos on YouTube, Vimeo etc. Carry a copy or send a link of work done.
Though you may not have all the above skills, there are a few added things you should do as you prepare for your public relations career. They include: networking, staying current on news stories, creating an online presence, joining a PR organization in school or a student newspaper and seeking out opportunities. Employers are looking for employees who are experienced and have a wide range of skills and abilities to offer.
What do you have to offer for your entry level PR job?
Images courtesy of Google.