Tips on Finding a Job in Public Relations

6 Oct

Sometimes I think that a lot of college graduates are under the impression that once they receive that bright-white piece of paper after waltzing across the stage in front of friends and family, that they will automatically land their dream job. Right? Wrong. Finding a job in the field of public relations (that you will thoroughly enjoy) is not an easy task to accomplish, but it is obviously doable.  I’d like to offer some tips and advice to those of you who are about to delve into the somewhat scary, “adult” world and hunt for jobs (myself being one of those people).

First, you should conduct some secondary research. You don’t want to seem unprepared, do you? Plus, if you conduct a sufficient amount of research, you will have a leg-up against your competitors who’ve applied for the same position. You should conduct research:

  • When you are initially looking for jobs
  • When you are applying to jobs
  • When you are invited to interview
Here is some information that you should gather while conducting your research:
  • General company information: products, services, history, mission, finances, structure, office locations, etc.
  • Employment information: if there is ample opportunity for advancement within the company (if that’s something you’re concerned about), if they offer benefits, company diversity
  • Industry information: who their competitors are, the state of the industry, major industry publications
  • The city that you’d potentially be living in: cost of living, areas to reside, social activities, etc.
You should also look at the company’s website, Facebook, Twitter feed, blogs and LinkedIn (here’s mine if you are unfamiliar with LinkedIn). Also read outside reviews of the company: Businessweek (for public and private companies), Hoovers (for public companies), Forbes (for private and public companies), Inc. 500 (for private companies), and Quint’s guide to non-profits. This can help you gain a better understanding of how the company ranks against other companies.
Also, your resume should be in tip-top shape to avoid getting a one-way ticket to the trash bin. Here are some resume tips:
  • Generate and use keywords and don’t sell yourself short
  • Have an easy-to-read format
  • Customize your own header in a program such as InDesign
  • Customize your resume for each position that you apply for and take out things that are irrelevant
  • Look at sample resumes and research other resume advice
Lastly, set yourself apart from other applicants by going above and beyond:
  • Start your own WordPress blog or Tumblr site and engage actively in social media
  • Follow industry leaders on Twitter, participate in the conversations that they’re having and tweet on a regular basis to show companies that you know what you’re doing
  • Create and beef-up your LinkedIn profile. This is a perfect way to connect with professionals in your field of interest
  • Create an online portfolio through Weebly or WordPress (Here’s a great example of a site create through Weebly: Desiree Mahr)
Here are some Twitter handles that are helpful to follow:
@nyprjobs, @dcprjobs, @PRSAjobcenter, @Prjobs, @prwork, @advertisingjobs, @nyadjobs, @topcreatives, @AdJobsinUSA, @Prwork, @GetPubRelatJobs
I hope this post is beneficial to you in your public relations job search. Good luck and may the best PR man or woman win!
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“Public relations writing” – what I’ve learned

23 Jun

2010 AP Style Book – $12;  Public Relations Writing: Form and Style textbook – $60; The New Rules of Marketing and PR textbook – $15; completing one of the most interesting and informative classes of my college career in a nationally ranked public relations program – priceless.

What I’ve gained by taking public relations writing:

I now fully realize that before taking APR 332, I only had a vague understanding of what public relations really is. Taking this course also feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders; I can now say that I know for a fact, 100%, no-doubt-in-my-mind that I have picked the right career path.  Writing, planning, evaluating, researching, articulating, producing, delegating, organizing and communicating are all terms to describe what a PR practitioner does. By taking this course, I’ve realized that these things are right up my alley.

What I’ve learned by taking public relations writing:

I’ve come to realize that crafting press releases, media kits, pitch letters and other various documents pertaining to PR is not something that just your ‘average Joe’ can complete successfully.  I’ve learned that crafting these pieces of writing is a detailed process that requires a great deal of practice and knowledge.

I’ve learned about SEO, or search engine optimization, press releases, media kits, pitch letters, fact sheets, social media, AP Style, research and planning, media alerts and feature writing.

To be able to rest easy at night knowing that you’re on the way to doing something you love is a wonderful feeling.

Pitching to the Press: How to Get Your Press Release Noticed

17 Jun

In the field of public relations, press releases either get nixed or they get noticed.  Obviously, the latter is more desirable. So, how do you get your message across in a way that will be accepted by your intended audience? And once you’ve crafted the perfect press release, how and who do you pitch it to?

First, you should know why press releases get rejected.  Gate keepers scrap 90 percent of news releases they obtain; why?

  • Poor writing, incompleteness, inaccuracy, poor timing, lack of local content, lack of reader interest, contain no news or too promotional
So to keep your release out of the trash can, you should focus on accomplishing the following things when writing a release:
  • Localize the news release
  • Write for the editor’s audience
  • Use proper grammar and AP style – this makes it easier for editors to publish your release without having to make many revisions; sloppy writing also makes it hard for an editor to trust your facts
  • Always be honest and do not leave out important facts, however embarrassing they may be – this helps with your credibility as a public relations practitioner
Okay, so you’ve produced the perfect press release. Now what’s the best way to get noticed? With social media growing and evolving 24/7, you should diversify they way you pitch your press releases. There are several ways to pitch your press releases, aside from just contacting editors of the various publications you’re trying to pitch.
So, here are some alternative ways to pitch your press release:
  1. Social Media Release or SMR – An SMR is the 2.0 version of the traditional press release. SMRs feature links, video, photos and social media integration.  These can be created by using Pitchengine or PRNewswire. SMRs are a great way to pitch a release if your news matters to the general public. The social sharing that is built into SMRs helps news travel fast.
  2. Blogger briefing – Think of blogger briefings as the new form of press conferences.  When you have big news to release, consider organizing a conference call or video meeting to share the news with bloggers and even traditional media outlets.
  3. YouTube video – YouTube is a free service allowing you to share whatever message you’d like with the potential of reaching hundreds of thousands and possibly even millions of people.  Does your CEO have a message he or she would like to share? Shoot a video and Tweet the link, post it on your company’s Facebook page, include it in your blog, add it to your company’s website and you could even send it to your local media outlets. I mean, I’m sure it wouldn’t get as many hits as the clips of out-takes from MTV’s Jersey Shore, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
  4. Blog post – Have breaking news or an important announcement to make? Blog about it. Simple, cost-effective and easy-to-use. As long as the publics you are trying to reach are subscribers or regular readers of your blog, this method should be successful.
  5. Send a Tweet – Twitter is used for many things: a way for Justin Beiber to profess his love to Selena Gomez, a way for Kim Kardashian to flaunt her 20-carat engagement ring (c’mon, is a 20-carat ring even necessary?), or a way for the average citizen to inform us that they just took a shower and are going to take their dog to the groomer (even though we really don’t care). Companies and public relations practitioners are also turning to 140-character messages in order to get their points across to their key publics. This option is usually only successful if you have built a strong network ahead of time.
Want your press releases and news to remain on the top of the trash heap? Think outside the box.

Blogging + Public Relations = Necessary

10 Jun

Blogging – all the cool kids are doing it. With news being shared 24 hours per day and 7 days per week via internet, social media, blogging, etc., it is imperative and very necessary that public relations practitioners become actively engaged online. 

According to Technorati, a blog-sharing website, approximately 4.8 million blogs exist online, up from just 100,000 in 2009.  With social media and blogging steadily growing, it’s hard to monitor any feedback if your business or company is not actively engaging with its publics online.  There are several uses and benefits to blogging, if done correctly.

The 4 main uses for blogging in the public relations profession: to monitor, to participate, to pitch stories and collaborate and to get the word out.

Monitor – Blogs should be set up to monitor how other people feel about your business or company as well as gain feedback from your publics. Setting up a blog for your publics to access provides a two-way forum for them to voice their opinion and provide you with valuable feedback. By monitoring other blogs that are closely related to your company or profession, you can see who is blogging about you, what they are blogging about, what they are commenting on and what they are concerned about. Once you have this information, you can respond in a timely manner.

Participate – People are more-likely to trust and support a business or company that is easy to interact with. It is imperative to actively engage with your publics and give them the answers and information they are looking for in a timely manner.

Pitch Stories/Collaborate – You can work with other bloggers in your industry or profession to promote news, pitch stories or gain helpful insight. With approximately 4.8 million blogs currently online, chances are there are more than plenty of people who are interested in your company or business.

“Hey!  Hey you!” Get the word out – This one is the most obvious.  Blogging is a platform for whatever message you need to get across. Blogging is a timely and inexpensive tool to update your publics about what’s going on in your business or profession.

Blogging. Do it.

Search Engine Optimization: What is it and why is it important?

8 Jun

What is SEO and why should you do it?

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of ensuring that the content on your website is easily found by search engines and ultimately resulting in getting ranked closest to that coveted number one spot as possible. According to UA public relations professor Dr. Kristen Heflin, 49 percent of internet users access the internet daily. Studies have also shown that 99 percent of search engine users never click anything past the first two pages of results. If your website is not ranked highly on search engines, how do you expect anyone to find your company, product or service?

How does SEO work?

Basically, each search engine sends out “bots” or “web spiders” that crawl the web, read websites, analyze content and ultimately file the information according to key terms used on the website.

“What does it take to be numba one?” – Nelly

When you search a specific term on search engines such as Google or Yahoo, have you ever wondered how these search engines know which websites to pull up or how they are even ranked? Website ranking is all about search engine optimization.

So then you might ask, how do you get your website ranked closest to the number one spot? One of the first steps you would take is analyze your website traffic and see what keywords people are searching. You can accomplish this by using sites such as Alexa.com and the Google AdWords tool.  The key to getting these “bots” or “web spiders” to recognize and highly rank your website is by using keyword phrases that people are actually typing in on search engines such as Google or Yahoo.

For example, let’s say you own a burger restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and you want your website to show up when someone is searching for a place to eat. Currently, you only have the phrase “Tuscaloosa burger restaurant” mentioned one time on your website. Your website is currently not ranked very high on search engine lists and you have no idea why. You then analyze keyword searches and come to find out that people are searching the phrase “Tuscaloosa burger restaurants.” After finding out that information, you now know to increase the number of times you mention the phrase “Tuscaloosa burger restaurant” in order to get the “web spiders” to recognize that you are, in fact, a Tuscaloosa burger restaurant.  You can incorporate your keywords or keyword phrases in your Meta tags, title tags, header tags, body text, links, alt tags, site maps, anchor links, domain name and image name. The most important thing to remember is that the more you use the keyword or phrase that people are searching the most, the more likely you are to be highly ranked on search engines.

“So I’m a PR person… What is my role in SEO?

Every PR practitioner should want their company’s website to be highly ranked on various search engines, thus driving more traffic to their site.  PR practitioners should first gather and analyze statistics about their website, which can be accomplished by using the aforementioned sites such as alexa.com and the Google AdWords Tool.  The practitioner should then analyze keyword searches and work with the company’s website designer to incorporate these keywords and keyword phrases into the company’s website as much as possible to ensure high ranking on search engine results.

So, there you have it – SEO in a nutshell.


Public relations. What is it? As defined by a college kid.

2 Jun

Communication. Honesty. Clarity. Conciseness. What do these four terms have in common? Well, my friend, they all can be used to describe the field that we call “public relations.” (Or at least they should, in my opinion).  A public relations practitioner is typically someone who deals with the public’s impression of the company they are employed by.  When I say “deals with” I mean they produce press releases, work with the different media outlets, help organize and promote events, and a myriad of other tasks. The field of public relations is quite broad and until I started taking public relations courses I didn’t realize that I’d also be learning about advertising, marketing, research, social media, etc. Essentially, a public relations practitioner should be honest, be able to communicate clearly and effectively, and have a great deal of knowledge about the company that they are employed by.

As far as my career path is concerned, I still have no clue where I’ll end up. Sometimes I feel like a lost ball in high weeds, but hey, I’m not the only one… Uh, right?  Since I graduate in December, some of my goals for this year include updating and promoting my own website, being more actively engaged in different forms of social media, reformatting and putting my resume in tip-top shape, networking as much as possible and ultimately looking for jobs closer to cap and gown time. I’m sure it won’t be an easy process, but I have faith that I’ll end up exactly where I’m supposed to.