A successful B2B or consumer public relations operation is often dependent on a strong team of seasoned pros and a bench of promising up-and-comers. Although it’s important to keep the pipeline full all year, as we gear up for a busy fall, we’re paying particular attention to staffing needs. Whether you’re an aspiring communications pro, a veteran writer or someone transitioning from another field, take a close look at the “Dos and Don’ts” below to help land the perfect position.
Do show you understand public relations.
That may sound ridiculous, but PR is often misunderstood, and we sometimes see candidates drawn to the industry because of a vague interest in “dealing with people” or because “it’s like advertising.” This often happens with a prospect who is changing careers or didn’t study PR in school, but either way, it’s a weak approach to landing a job. The candidate with the passion for PR and real understanding of it is the better choice over a lackluster interviewee who has a degree in public relations, so preparation and homework are key. We want the person who “gets it” and can define PR with fluidity and intelligence.
Don’t pigeonhole yourself.
Because of entertainment and fashion, a job in PR has taken on a “glam” halo that is often unrealistic. The PR industry is fascinating and ever-changing, no matter what kind of work you’re doing. Although you may have had your heart set on sports PR and now find yourself in B2B tech, odds are it will be just as stimulating and and challenging. Be open, embrace it, and you’ll surprise yourself with how satisfying the job can be.
Do know your prospective employer’s business inside out.
If a candidate doesn’t say “I’ve been to your website” or “I’ve read your blog,” within a few minutes of interviewing, I’m wary. Anyone who wants a job with a company has to be familiar with it, at least in a cursory way. Preferably, this also means they follow the company, the management and some clients on social media and have made it their business to comment on posts and share content as well. Smart candidates start doing this very early in a hiring cycle.
Don’t burn any bridges.
Not even one. Trust is a key factor in hiring and prospective employers want to be able to contact references (both those that you supply and ones that they seek out on their own) and hear honest, hopefully positive, assessments of past work and working relationships. Even in the heat of the moment, or when someone suspects they’ve been unfairly treated, the right move is always civility. This includes refraining from any nasty subterfuge – texting, posting or in any way bad-mouthing colleagues or former employers. Legitimate gripes have their place on industry review websites or with HR departments.
Do show creativity.
We’re in the media and content business, so it helps if you’re a blogger, occasional videographer, or just a social media animal. You’ll have a far better chance of standing out among the crowd if you have a digital profile with interesting and topical content, a personal (but not too personal) blog or Medium account, or a flair for creative visuals.
Don’t be shy.
Persistence, even pushiness, is also a differentiator. Sometime the most well-intentioned prospective employer gets bogged down, and regular reminders can mean the difference between that next interview and oblivion. Employ some “soft” measures as well – forward a link to a relevant article, pass on news of some non-work related accomplishment or a congratulatory note to the firm for a new business win. If all else fails, pick up the phone. Yes, the actual phone – that one personal touch could do the trick.