I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now to get some advice out to my fellow PR students since I almost no longer fall under that category. (Scary!)
My education journey is nearing closure and I’m now ready to get myself out there in the world of PR. Yet 3 years ago I never thought i’d even have a clue as to what I actually wanted to do post-graduation, let alone be at the position I’m at now!
Would you say it is a coincidence that I just so happened to land a part time job in the industry I love (and what more – in the city I love?) Coincidence? No, the universe is rarely so lazy – where I am now is a product of my own hard work and determination to succeed. Because i’m all about sharing, here’s some tips on how I got to where I am now:
Always start early (in everything)
This comes down to anything to do with your studies – coursework, revision, the job search etc… Starting early and ‘getting ahead of the game’ is always a good idea and you can never go far wrong with having your work completed deadlines hit – that way, you leave yourself time to go back and change things if needs be!
(FYI – this applies to all courses, not just PR!)
My general rule of thumb throughout the last 3 years was to set myself a deadline at least a week before the actual deadline, this way I had enough time to go back over my work, check it and possibly amend it – without that last minute stress.
Something I used to do quite often was to go home after a lecture and write up sections of my report/assignment that were relevant. It didn’t take long and that way, the work was always my best as it was fresh in the mind AND when it came to the final write up – i’d pretty much done it all already!
Organise your time
It’s so cliche, but honestly one of the best things I could have done throughout my studies was to remain organised.
Fear not, this doesn’t mean covering your walls in calenders, post it notes and timetables if you’re just not that kind of person. What it does mean is finding a solution that works for you. I’ve tried and tested many different methods of organisation over my studies including:
- Study timetables
- Wall calenders
- Calenders and reminders on my phone
- To do lists
- Post its (stuck everywhere)
What I found worked best for me was using my diary for pretty much everything, but also using the calendar on my phone as a backup for important dates and deadlines. I also love a good to-do list to keep me on track, they never take me long to write and they help to make sure i’ve done everything I need to by the end of the day/week/month…
Look after and know your socials
Employers will search your socials with a fine toothed comb, so make sure you don’t put anything too outrageous on there. Remember your online platforms project who you are as a person, so make sure they are a true reflection of you (and of course how you’d like your employer to view you).
Not only this, but it also doesn’t hurt to have a good knowledge of social media as in this day and age, social media is very centric in PR and knowing how to use it is always a good skill to have. Following influencers and high profile bloggers and noting PR opportunities are a good place to start. Take notice of sponsored posts and notice the influence these posts can have as this is something you may end up covering in your day to day working routine.
Start a PR blog
I started a blog at the start of second year which ultimately was a bit of failure as I made it too niche and soon ran out of content. I was very interested in music but unfortunately was not invested enough to run a whole website on the back of this interest.
Shortly thereafter I founded this blog and the rest, as they say, was history. I’ve gone (in my opinion) from strength to strength in my content and have finally found my writing style – consequently, the readers have poured in!
I get a lot of recognition as a professional individual on the back of this blog thanks to Richard at PR Place who often includes me in the ‘Best PR Blogs’ of the week. Employers will scour your online presence for anything of interest and a PR blog will always do you tons of favours. A lot of agencies actually now like to see evidence of at least a years worth of independent blog hosting and writing – so start early!
(What more, a lot of PR jobs will actually require you to write blog posts from time to time – so it’s great to get a head start!)
Start a LinkedIn
I will forever hype up the importance of LinkedIn, I am working in the industry I love as a sole result of a LinkedIn post and a very kind colleague who recommended me as an intern.
LinkedIn, if you use it to your advance can be your head start in your PR career, so start working on it early on. I throw everything on LinkedIn – all of my articles, blog posts, experiences, jobs etc. and I can’t ever say I’ve regretted it.
That being said, far too many people forget the purpose of LinkedIn and quickly become serial offenders of over sharing. Remember to only connect with relevant people and only post relevant things. Know the difference between LinkedIn and Facebook. For more of my advice on LinkedIn, click here.
Get an internship
I bang on about my internship all the time, but I can never express enough how vital it is to have one, especially in your final year of study.
I’ve learned loads at university don’t get me wrong, but the real practical learning came from working within the industry and putting my knowledge in to practical use. In turn, you can then use what you do at work and apply it to your studies and they work together in unison.
I’ve found that since working in PR, I’ve gained so much more knowledge and could confidently walk in to any future career knowing exactly what they expect of me – and it’s all on the back of my internship. To be able to focus my working time solely on what my future career will be focused on has been the highlight of my third year and hopefully I’ll see some long term benefits too…
As aforementioned, I got my internship of the back of LinkedIn, but there are loads of ways you can search for them. My uni offers an internship search feature which I definitely would have utilised if not for my current one – check out whether your uni has the same, I would always recommend it. For more of my tips on securing PR internships (or any internship for that matter) click here.
Find your voice
When I started uni, I was timid and nervous – i’d admit that to anyone. But after finding myself within my course, my confidence has grown tons as a result and this is such a vital aspect of working within PR.
Of course presentations and speeches are scary, but as with anything – they get better with practise and the skill is so invaluable in PR. If you can stand up and pitch your company to a client or consumer confidently then you best believe that nothing but success will follow.
Confidence is also crucial in future interviews and meetings, therefore it is important that you ace this skill – for me it came naturally as I journeyed through university, but for those who are finding it harder, your university is bound to offer support. Mine does so i’d certainly recommend checking this out.
Embrace your creativity
PR is all about being creative so it is crucial that you get in touch with your creative side early on in your career – and yes that begins at education.
The best assignments and reports have a creative flare and originality always scores the best marks – so think outside the box. I’m no expert on curriculum, but a lot of our ‘assignments’ have actually been really creative projects, from events planning to creating and selling a product. Therefore, embracing your inner creativity is essential in doing well and also gives you an edge and personal style.
Don’t worry if you wouldn’t classify yourself as creative – we all have an inner creative flare, you just need to find it and channel it by finding your niche. It could be words, drawings, paintings, web designs or even just the ability to think up creative ideas, whatever your flare may be – always harness it and use it to your advantage in your PR studies.
And finally, just don’t freak out.
This one goes for anybody by the way, not just the PR students.
Uni is scary, sure. You may be living away from home for the first time, may be travelling to a new city or may just be in a room full of strangers – no matter what kind of person you are, it’s always a little scary and daunting at first but fear not, it becomes the norm so so fast.
You’ll also do yourself no favours by stressing out about work – it’s easily avoided stress and really isn’t worth the additional anxieties. Read my tips here about staying sane in your final year of university, (most of them apply to every type of course).
Ultimately, uni isn’t just about the work – it’s about finding yourself and finding friends and relationships that last a lifetime. So make sure that you focus your energies on that as well as work and you’ll soon be breezing through. As long as you find the balance – I promise you’ll be fine.
If anybody is ever worried about anything to do with their studies, or would like any PR advice, i’m only ever a message away and you can get in touch with me via the contact page, or follow me on Twitter @JLouisePardoe. I’m forever happy to help anyone out.