If you’ve always been fascinated with how corporations, government agencies, institutions, and media inform and persuade the public, a career in public relations can put you behind the scenes, making the decisions that influence the masses.
Public relations consultants focus on building relationships with all the “publics” of an organization. They are effective communicators who are adept at problem solving, able to see multiple points-of-view, and are calm even in the most hectic situations.
The PR Potential
A career in public relations can be glamorous, as you often work with interesting and influential people such as celebrities or politicians. As an added benefit, according to the Council of Public Relations Firms, public relations consultants can earn up to $85,000 or more per year. Finally, there is a huge sense of personal satisfaction in planning a public relations project, implementing that plan, and seeing the results.
Follow these ten steps (based on the fabjob.com Guide to Becoming a Public Relations Consultant) to a rewarding career in this new and dynamic field.
1. Learn the job. One of the reasons this career is so interesting is that it includes many different activities, including publicity, promotion, advertising, lobbying, fund-raising, and media relations. Many PR consultants specialize in one of these areas, so use the Internet and other resources to explore these areas of expertise to find out where your strengths and interests lie.
2. Develop your skills. You need to be clear and persuasive in your written communication. Desirable employees are computer-savvy, polished individuals who are comfortable speaking with groups of two or 200. You also will want to demonstrate that you are empathetic, appreciate diversity, and work well under stress.
3. Education and alternatives. A college degree is highly desirable, and public relations, journalism, marketing, and communications is especially attractive. Even if you have a degree in an entirely different area, volunteering for PR projects or taking a few night courses will give you a competitive edge. Without a college degree, some individuals have become successful by opening their own agencies or .
4. Get experience. Experience, a good mentor, and lots of practice can turn you into an effective consultant. Get anor to do public relations for civic groups or the like. You may want to try freelance writing, or see if your current employer has any PR projects you can take on. Working with trained PR professionals is a great way to learn and make contacts in the industry.
5. Your. You will need to have a portfolio available for review. It will include your published press releases, articles you have written, communication plans you developed, brochures you designed, information about special events you coordinated, and any awards you have received for your work.
6. Job hunting. Check newspaper classifieds, trade publications, and online job boards, and attend job fairs and trade shows. You can even “cold call” potential employers send aand , then follow up with a phone call in a few days to set up a meeting.
7. Ace the interview. Dress in business attire, and prepare yourself by researching the company thoroughly. Be confident and focus on how your skills meet their needs. Use the research you’ve done to ask intelligent, timely questions about the company. Really showcase your social know-how by following up with a letter thanking the interviewers for their time.
8. Launching your own agency. When you have the skills and experience to meet clients’ needs fully, self-employment is a logical next step. Develop a business plan to help you plan and execute the start-up, including consideration of financial and legal matters, market research, and the impression you want to convey to your clients. There are many print and online resources that contain invaluable advice on these and other topics for would-be entrepreneurs.
9. Finding clients. Identify who in your area uses public relations consultants, and why. Look at corporations, non-profit groups, the public sector, trade associations, politics, and even individuals who are in the public eye. Networking remains the best way to meet and retain clients for your business–have plenty of business cards available.
10. Self-promotion. Actively promote yourself to keep your business inundated with new clients. A media kit containing a personalized cover letter, biography, samples of your work and references is an effective promotional tool that can be sent out to prospective clients. By publishing articles, putting up a personal web page, and taking on speaking engagements, you will further establish yourself as the public relations consultant people choose when they want the job done right.