Posted At: August 24, 2009 11:11 AM
by Emonica Dames, Contributing Writer
Education will always be important to those seeking to practice in the field of public relations. Pursuing a degree in public relations is not only rewarding intellectually and financially, it’s also fun. But what may change is how we use our education.
For centuries youngsters were told to graduate college, get a good job, be loyal to an employer and you will be set for life. The landscape of how business works has changed. Companies streamline, reorganize and downsize as often as they file taxes. All this change means a first job can be lost without even getting your feet wet. This is most unfortunate, so students and recent graduates must keep self-loyalty in the back of their minds at all times. Thus, if you find yourself in the unemployment line, there will always be self to fall back on and an opportunity to start your own business.
One promising self-reliant area is online public relations services. The Internet and social marketing have increased the need for creative, analytical public relations specialists who are quick studies and can help with writing copy for blogs, Web sites and banner ads in conjunction with providing traditional services. Along with the Internet comes easy access for satisfied and dissatisfied customers, competitors and critics to quickly make their assessments about a business, publicly. Therefore, companies seek strategic people who can manage their reputations online.
Entrepreneurship, however, is not for everyone, especially those who cannot or do not want to handle all aspects of running a company. Typically in the beginning you have to do all things: accounting, marketing, sales and customer service.
This can be overwhelming, so you may want to take the route of providing freelance services as a sole-proprietor, allowing you to work under your own name and Social Security number; this way filing taxes is not such a burden. Further, becoming a PR consultant or freelance writer has low start-up fees. Of course for many, the ultimate goal is to find that first job when you get out of school, but it is okay to set yourself up for success when you find that your job situation continues to put your future in jeopardy.
The best time to begin a self-reliance plan is when you are still a senior in college. Decide which area of PR fits you: media relations, writing, account management, creative. Focus on securing an internship or volunteer for a nonprofit organization where you not only gain experience but have keen focus on building a portfolio and list of testimonials.
After graduation, continue to build your portfolio and testimonials as you work. Always ask clients if you can add pieces that you have worked on to your portfolio and request recommendations from your employers. It is also a good idea to secure at least two or more freelance projects per year. Take all of this information and market yourself as a freelancer in a professional and fair manner.
Tools for self marketing
- Web site—Check out MS Office live for free Web site, domain and e-mail services.
- Business cards—Design your own or hire a graphic designer.
- Letterhead—Easy to self design, ensure it matches business cards.
- Soundbite—Develop a 20-30 second soundbite to introduce yourself and services as you meet new people.
Ways to get to promote your PR services
Contact family, friends and others to let them know that you are offering freelance PR services.
How you think about your education and career aspirations has to be broader than in the past. Stay focused on your goals and see how you can include self-loyalty in your quest to be successful, while proving to employers that you are the best person for the job or too good to let go. If in fact one day you do receive a pink slip, your loyalty in developing yourself into a marketable, independent commodity will help you soar to heights farther than imagined.