Categorized | Job Hunting

How to Become a PR Consultant

Posted on 03 October 2008

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, freelance 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 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 freelancing.

4. Get experience. Experience, a good mentor, and lots of practice can turn you into an effective consultant. Get an internship or volunteer 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 portfolio. 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 a cover letter and resume, 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.

This post was written by:

- who has written 318 posts on Higher Education and Career Blog.

Contact the author

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume to Referral says:

    You offer excellent advice on how to become a PR consultant. Very thorough. With the economy in the “toilet” so to speak and so many employers that may need help planning their next move, I think just about every industry is ripe for the picking in the consulting arena. In addition to PR consulting, which sounds like a very rewarding and lucrative career for the right person, there are other industries or areas that may appeal to certain individuals such as fashion, fitness, parenting, stress-relief, beauty, and more. If you have the knowledge and the drive, just about anyone can learn how to become a consultant. Below you will find a how-to article about how to become a consultant. I think your readers may find it useful. I hope this helps!

    Resume to Referral
    Resume and Career Services

    Go With What You Know: Learn How to Become a Consultant

    So you finally found your calling and you want to learn how to become a consultant but you have no idea where to start. If you truly want to learn how to become a consultant, prepare yourself for a serious challenge. The good news is, you’re about to become a member of an industry that rakes in more than $70 billion a year, so there’s enough profit to go around. Once you learn how to become a consultant, you are well on your way to commanding top dollar for your expertise. Companies, individuals, families, and couples are willing to pay handsomely to receive expert advice from a consultant and the opportunities for all types of consultants are endless. Before taking the plunge into selling your expertise for profit, there are a few things you should consider – very carefully.

    If you want to learn how to become a consultant, one of the first steps is to decide on an area of expertise. A good rule of thumb is to “go with what you know.” While technical, science and management consulting jobs are constantly growing in numbers, small consulting businesses and individual consulting contractors of a non-technical nature are increasing in numbers as well.

    Search through your local Yellow Pages or online switchboard ( and you will find everything from career, fashion, crisis, and fitness consultants to beauty, parenting and stress relief consultants. The list doesn’t stop there — there are literally hundreds of consulting services available to the conservative and the not-so-conservative public. In addition to the types of consultants mentioned above, it is not uncommon to find energy consultants, pet care consultants, Feng Shui consultants, childbirth consultants, and even legitimate sex therapy consultants!

    Once you have carefully considered the area of expertise you would like to pursue, it’s time to study the market. Assuming you want to learn how to become a consultant in order to start your own business, browse through similar services and contractors in your area to survey the competition.

    How long have they been in business? What services do they offer? What are their fees like?
    You don’t have to model your consulting business after someone else’s, but it helps to familiarize yourself with “what’s out there.” If after researching similar consulting businesses and you are still interested in moving forward, it’s time to move on to creating a portfolio, a presentation package and/or a resume.

    Depending on your area of expertise, you might have to create a physical or online portfolio that includes samples of your best work or you may have a presentation package, which includes your work experience, a detailed list of your skills, references and/or testimonials. If you are starting out on your own, a resume and a portfolio are still important, but you will also need a business plan. A great resource for information on how to write a business plan (and for start-ups in general) is the Small Business Administration or SBA. Visit the SBA website ( to browse through an endless amount of information about starting, financing and managing your business. They also offer resources for business training, access to hundreds of forms (financial, technical, tax), information about business laws, how to estimate costs, information about grants and programs, and advice on just about any issue that affects the small business owner.

    Once you have prepared your business plan, portfolio or resume, it’s time to figure out how you would like to market yourself or your business. At this point, if you decide you want to work for a consulting firm, all it takes is to start sending your resume out to companies that match your background. For a start-up however, marketing will be a bit more elaborate than mailing resumes.

    Marketing is a hodgepodge of strategies including: promotion, publicity, PR and advertising. If you create a marketing plan that encompasses all four strategies (in one way or another), you’re well on your way to an effective marketing campaign. Depending on your budget, the type of marketing technique you decide you use can range from Internet marketing, direct mail and press releases to advertising in local newspapers and magazines, yellow pages ads, posting to bulletin boards and creating e-zines.

    With the right information, a few reliable resources and a hefty amount of drive and determination, you can learn how to become a consultant in no time.

    Resume to Referral
    Resume and Career Services

  2. hemen parekh says:

    Unemployed watch-out!

    Times OF India (Aug. 05, 2010) reports:

    Reuters / Ipsol poll on ” business attire “, conducted amongst 12,500 executives in 24 countries, found:
    How many wear smart dresses to work?

    INDIA 58 %
    SOUTH KOREA 47 %
    CHINA 46 %
    TURKEY 46 %
    BRITAIN 43 %
    AUSTRALIA 40 %
    CANADA 35 %
    ITALY 35 %
    JAPAN 35 %
    BRAZIL 33 %
    GERMANY 31 %
    FRANCE 30 %
    BELGIUM 28 %
    RUSSIA 28 %
    ARGENTINA 27 %
    MEXICO 22 %
    SWEDEN 22 %
    INDONESIA 21 %

    But this is when you already have a job !

    My advice to jobseekers everywhere, about to appear for a job-interview:

    “Just don’t take a risk. Dress your best. Look smarter than all other applicants waiting to be interviewed. It will boost your confidence. Everything else being equal between two finalists, the better dressed candidate will walk away with a job offer !”
    With regards,

    hemen parekh

    Job for All = Peace on Earth

Leave a Reply