How To land your first PR job – and knock it out of the park when you start

It’s graduation season, which means a number of students are stepping out into the world with PR degrees either hunting for a job or looking to make the most of a first opportunity.

I remember how much I benefited from the advice of others when I was just getting started, so I asked my colleagues what advice they would share with this year’s graduating class of PR students.

On finding a PR job:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail. The hiring landscape is a competitive one right now and it’s important to remember that if you don’t land a position after going through the interview process, it’s not that you weren’t a great candidate. If you don’t land something, look at that process and learn from it – you’ll be more prepared for the next interview. – Evans
  • PR is so versatile; I can’t stress enough the importance of getting an internship to test the waters. And I’m biased, but an agency internship lets you test a wide variety of industries and tactics, which can make the best use of your job-hunting time. – Casey
  • For students who are looking for their first job in PR – I’d suggest following PR firms on social. This will be great when you start applying for jobs because you’ll have an idea of the work being done in your community. You’ll also learn about how companies are growing and when they are hiring – that’s how I found out that Hodges was hiring, I probably wouldn’t have found out otherwise! – Michaela
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn. Like when pitching a reporter, when networking it can be helpful to reach out to a potential contact at their least crowded inbox, so your note doesn’t get lost in a crowded email inbox. Of course, before you reach out, you’ll want to make sure your own profile is up to date and a positive reflection of your skills. – Meg
  • During school, keep your professors close and your adjunct professors closer. Often, these people are well-connected in industry circles and if strong connections are made and you show your abilities in the classroom, they will go to bat for you when you’re embarking on your job search. – Evans

On thriving in a new position:

  • My tip is to begin developing your brand as a PR person.  There’s a good chance that your first job may not be exactly in public relations, but no matter what your position is, volunteer to do some PR work for the organization you work for.  Help the social media person wrote posts, contribute to the company newsletter, update their media list.  That way, you will not only get experience, but you have these skills on your resume.  Join PRSA. Volunteer on a nonprofit’s marketing committee.  Write an article as a freelancer to get that byline.  Act like a PR person no matter where you find yourself.  Make your own luck.  – Josh
  • The biggest hack I can recommend is taking advantage of whatever shared file system your new job has and spend time digging, learning, absorbing. If you get assigned a project that you’re not quite sure how it should look, go into a similar file, and get a sense of the structure. Chances are you’ll hit it out of the ballpark, and you never have to share your secret. – Casey
  • Read the room. It sounds simple, but you can learn a lot of by listening and watching how your colleagues interact and work together, which is especially important when you work on a close-knit team. Picking up on small things can go a long way towards success in the workplace. – Meg
  • Embrace the fact that you don’t know everything when starting a job…be a sponge when starting and don’t be afraid of feedback – especially when it comes to how to improve. – Evans

What advice for graduating students would you add to the list?

Megan Irvin

Megan spends her days doing media relations, community relations, content creation and events for clients like Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Virginia Distillery Company and Mercy Chefs. Her favorite part of her job is working with clients and providing strategic counsel — and garnering media attention for clients in outlets like TODAY, Esquire, USA Today and Bon Appetit.

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