Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

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by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

One Comment

  1. Corey Tyson

    Hope, I enjoyed your article. I agree with the idea that public relations students and graduates should focus to become better at making relationships and being remembered. I vouch for myself and probably half of public relations majors, at least until we had Dr. Gonzenbach, that we decided on public relations because we’re known to be good with communications and meeting people. It’s time to take that a step further and develop relationships that are beneficial to our profession.

    Reply

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