You’ve just graduated and you’re entering the workforce with limited experience. Maybe you have a few “relevant” internships scattered around your resume, but that’s about it. Regardless, you’re eager to dive into a successful PR career… just as soon as you can figure out where the springboard is.
In November, the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America sought to give students and young professionals some pointers at their event “The New Public Relations: Digital Strategy and Your Place In It.” The networking event, which was hosted at APCO Worldwide, featured a panel of five Digital Strategists with experience levels ranging from Associate to Group Vice President. Panelists answered questions from two moderators and then opened questions up to those attending.
As a young professional myself, I was anxious to hear what the panelists had to say about networking, finding a job, and acquiring the skills necessary to succeed in the industry. Here are some of the gems for you budding PR pros.
Start with Yourself
Even if you have zero job experience within the digital field, chances are you still have experience with digital platforms—in 2016 it’s almost impossible not to! During the session, Director at APCO Worldwide, Rachael Siefert said starting with yourself is one of the first steps every young PR professional should take. It’s not likely that you’ll be able to walk into an interview with a portfolio full of digital strategies developed and executed by you, but she suggests making sure your digital presence is up to par.
Digital media has become increasingly important over the years in almost every aspect of our daily lives. All of the panelists agreed that the moment your resume lands on a potential employer’s desk, the next thing they do is look you up online. So with this information in mind, you should think of your digital presence as your portfolio—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all ways of marketing your personal brand. Make sure your platforms send the right message about you, your skills and your interests.
Do Your Googles
And be fervent in doing so. According to Annelise Campbell, a Digital Associate at Golin NY, you have to be a Grade-A Googler and a bit of a magician to get ahead. Before she worked at Golin, Annelise spent hours on Google and LinkedIn acquiring background information on the companies and people she wanted to work for. With the right information, you can find the email address of even the most elusive of employers. Doing your Googles can not only get your foot in the door, but also give you a leg up on the competition. Wouldn’t it be great to know that the guy you’re standing next to in the elevator on your way up to an interview is actually a senior executive? It’s happened to me before. The more you know, the better you can tailor your resume and cover letter, and raise your chances of not only scoring the interview, but landing the job.
20 Minutes is All It Takes
Twenty minutes. That’s all you need to acquire most of the skills that’ll set you apart. Group Vice President at Ruder Finn James Walker sympathizes with students and young professionals who don’t necessarily have the resources to attend a workshop or class or even to purchase the tools that allow us to practice. James says, when asked if you know a certain skill, acknowledge that you know the tool. Say “I’m familiar,” and then spend 20 minutes of your free-time on the web actually getting an understanding of how the tool works. Chances are, most companies offer some sort of on-boarding training that will include most of the skills that are particular to their practices. In addition to YouTube—the mecca of tutorials–there are plenty of free online courses like Code Academy, you just have to do some digging.
PR is always evolving. Whether you think traditional methods are ancient or you find them to be a necessary foundation is inconsequential. In order to succeed in the ever-changing industry, you have to understand the key areas of growth. This means you never stop learning, familiarizing, and reading. Sarah Dubow, a Senior Digital Strategist at Marina Maher Communications likes to go outside of the industry trade bubble. She suggests reading up on business, world news and events. Doing so allows you to connect the dots and spot trends before they become “trendy.” Sarah also suggests making yourself as knowledgeable as possible on the latest platforms as soon as they are announced or become available to the public.
Now that you know where to start, go out there and get digital!