Public relations professionals are often responsible for protecting the reputation of the client or organization they are working for; however, true PR professionals can only begin to protect the reputation of someone else when they have established a reputation of their own.
There are many fundamental ‘rules’ that a PR student should keep in mind during his/her journey into the career field. Although these ‘rules’ are certainly not written in stone, they cover some very crucial points that could make or break a graduate’s first career opportunity.
PR students are entering a very competitive field, where only the best will be sought after for clients and career possibilities – and understandably so, because a client who is paying for a service deserves the very best in return.
Here is a list of 10 things that every student entering the field of public relations should know about what to do and what not to do, and how to make a great first impression on future clients:
1) When you begin the grueling interview process for your first real career, ALWAYS have writing samples in your interview portfolio. You, as a PR professional, will not be worthy to a company if you cannot write, and write well at that. The companies need proof that you can (and just telling them you can write is not going to cut it).
2) As someone who is just beginning the search for his/her first career, attend as many mixers/networking events as you can. Your goal is to meet as many people as possible. The more people you know, the bigger your potential networking circle will get.
3) Three things – business cards, business cards, business cards. Go and have some made (you can even order them online or make them on Microsoft Word). Start with a set of 200 (usually you can get that many for under $10) and try them out. Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors! Your credibility can be ruined as soon as a potential client’s eyes rest on the “s” missing in “professional.” Not to mention, you will have just wasted $10 on a set of worthless cards.
4) An additional rule for business cards – do NOT hand them out unless the person you are speaking with ASKS for one. Contrary to popular belief, handing them out to people without them requesting a card can seem desperate. If someone is interested in keeping in contact with you, they will make sure to get your card.
5) Also, when attending mixers and networking events, be extremely cautious when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Limit yourself to two drinks at most. The worst thing you could do is make a complete fool of yourself in front of people you were hoping to work with in the near future. And stay away from colorful drinks or drinks with dark, stain-inducing capabilities. You don’t want to end up with a colorful mess on your white shirt or blouse.
6) When you finally do land your first job, always dress appropriately. Working in PR means that you ARE the company’s image, and you want your company to be taken seriously. Show that you know how to dress well, and people will notice.
7) From the words of PR professional Adam Vincenzini, “Aim to be two things: proactive and useful.” The moment you get your first PR-related job, be aggressive and do everything you can to be helpful. No one wants an employee that stands around waiting for something to do all the time.
8) Immerse yourself in social media channels. Get skilled at using social media before you even begin to look for a job. Traditional news outlets are slowly becoming obsolete, and you want to make sure you are knowledgeable in how sites such as Twitter, Facebook and various blogs work. Many companies are now moving to social media networks to market their business.
9) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! And read everything that you can get a hold of. The more you know about the businesses of your company’s clients, the more your company will want to keep you on its team. Also, remember to write thank-you notes! Those will never go out of style.
10) The last, and probably most important, thing that any aspiring PR professional should know is to be honest at all times, and to convey business ethics that are in accordance with his/her own morals. Be loyal to your company, but never, ever compromise your ethics for someone else. If you feel in your gut that what someone is asking you to do is wrong or immoral, then it probably is.
Written by: Anete Millers