By Stephanie Alcántara
Contrary to popular undergrad belief, public relations is not an easy profession. It requires you to be a jack-of-all-trades, contributing to your client’s success in a number of ways. It encompasses event planning, media relations, crisis communication, and influencer relations, among many other competencies. What it does not necessarily require is a degree in communications. I graduated with a degree in Art History and French, and know others who have likewise done the same. So what exactly does it take to enter into the PR world?
Get to know the right people.
Networking is essential; not only for your future role as a PR professional interacting with others on behalf of your clients, but also to get your foot in the door. By networking with alumni from your alma mater and taking the time to do informational interviews, you can figure out if this is really a career path that you want to pursue. It will also help you gain insight into the type of clients you ultimately want to work with. You may even be lucky enough to gain a valuable mentor to guide you through your job search and possibly, the rest of your career.
Learn about the industry.
While some of your fondest memories may have involved a bit of liquid courage, alcohol isn’t just a party drink. If you’re planning on going into the industry, you should know about your clients and what the relevant terms are. Many PR professionals in the wine world take educational seminars (or even decide to take the in-depth WSET). This additional education helps them to contribute to client’s needs in a more thoughtful, meaningful way. Likewise, knowing the difference between reposado and blanco Tequilas and being aware of important food and beverage holidays could inform some of your first pitches (and client placements)!
Stay up to date on trends.
Set Google Alerts for relevant terms. Peruse the websites where you imagine your future clients appearing, and read the work of the media you will be pitching. Know what events and activations competitors are conducting. By staying abreast of relevant industry trends and news, you will be better prepared to provide answers to interview questions.
Follow up is as important as everyone says it is.
Sometimes people forget. Sometimes things come up or an email goes directly to the spam folder. The art of following up makes the difference between a great job and, well, no job. It also shows your employer that you understand follow-through, which is crucial to any position you take. Once you do start working in PR, there will inevitably come a time when you follow up with a journalist, and, 6 months later, they cover your client.