Virtually every student has had their fears about finding work after graduating and/or getting “stuck” in a low-paying, dead-end job; there is no exception for those studying PR. Fortunately, the internet exists, so we have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips on what starting off in PR is like, and how your career can grow from there. In a nutshell, “PR pros look for opportunities to deliver appropriate messages to their audiences” (Editors, 2012). People working in this field at all levels contribute to this far-reaching task, even those of us who start from the bottom. While it may be intimidating to start off with no job experience in PR out of college, skills like team work, personability, and research that were relevant in the classroom will translate to the work environment (Hunt, 2002) (Editors, 2012).
A beginner in public relations who manages to find a job fresh out of college would likely find themselves starting as a “beginning professional”. This level of employment can entail writing, researching, and really anything that can teach basic skills to the spring chickens of the industry (Hunt, 2002). “Staff professionals” is a title given when the newcomer has a couple of years of experience under their belts, and can take on minor management roles (Hunt, 2002). Promotions and progress happen to people who are verbally articulate, skillful with mass media, and good communicators. The only way to really learn how to do these things well is to practice them, and that will most definitely involve making mistakes and asking lots of questions in an entry-level job before you become “important” (Editors, 2012).
For those seeking a spot in the public relations world, there are three very broad areas to consider going into: publicity, communications, and training (Roos, 2007). Publicity people handle a lot of the writing and working with advertisers; press releases, interviews, and press conferences is where they shine, all with the intention to make sure the general public has a good view of the client (Roos, 2007). Communication specialists are the ones who get to deal with crises, work with marketing departments on new products, coordinate events, and more. Training professionals are in charge of teaching clients how to handle the press and how to handle themselves on social media (Roose, 2007). Obviously, these three categories contain many subcategories, but a non-profit PR department, corporate office, and a PR firm will all have tasks that fall under the umbrella.
I’m not a Public Relations major; I didn’t know what PR even was until this semester. My area of study is Health Communications, which is one of those tricky-to-define majors that no one really knows much about, even those who are studying it. To my surprise, public relations can play a large role in the careers of Health Communications majors (which I should have realized, as it’s required to take public relations for my major). Eventually I would like to work as a community health advocate, or as a sort of go-between for patients and doctors. However, I realize it’s unlikely that this will happen immediately out of school, and learning PR as a skill will no no doubt help me to establish myself in the Health Comm industry.
Hunt, T. (2002). Public relations, careers in. Encyclopedia of Communication and Information , 3, 786-788. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE|CX3402900219&v=2.1&u=lom_gvalleysu&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&asid=f0c0ef5b9e8fea9e62de76ca6258e87a
Editors. (2012, November 30). Career overview: Public relations. Retrieved from https://www.wetfeet.com/articles/career-overview-public-relations
Roos, D. (2007, August 28). How public relations works. Retrieved from http://money.howstuffworks.com/business-communications/how-public-relations-works6.htm