So, you’ve hit a bit of a plateau in your job. You’re feeling a little stuck or bored at work every day, and you catch yourself daydreaming about what your dream PR job would actually look like—maybe heading up global communications at a company on the forefront of innovation or managing social media at one of the nation’s most notable agencies.
If this sounds familiar, there’s no better time to get started on your PR job hunt. The good news is—the strategies you need to succeed are exactly the same things you’re used to doing for your clients: getting current, getting connected, getting social, and getting out there.
Whether you’re new to the PR working world or you’re considering a change mid-career, here’s your game plan for landing your dream job in PR.
1. Get Current
Do you know what’s new, now, and next in public relations? If not, it’s time to get current, monitoring the pulse of the PR industry like you do your clients’ (or your social media feeds). Consider it your duty to keep tabs on news, trends, and happenings in the companies or clients you want to work with and the industry as a whole. Believe me; being in the know will give you an edge when you’re job searching.
Start with free, online resources like PR Daily and PR News, which cover the full scope of PR specialties—social media, writing and editing, crisis management, media relations, and marketing—in an easily digestible (and thoroughly enjoyable) manner. With hot-off-the-press news, easy-to-apply tips for real world scenarios, and entertaining stories that only those in the industry can appreciate, you’ll always take something away from what you read.
Next, get excited about enrichment and trainings. From company-sponsored trainings to conferences and brand summits to free online webinars, there are a multitude of avenues just waiting to provide growth (and great networking opportunities!). Beyond the traditional PR realm, consider building some new skills that could help set you apart in the field, like graphic design, photography, or content marketing. The PR field is rapidly evolving to include many other disciplines, and having these bullets on your resume can really help you shine.
Finally, I find that poring over PR career interviews, like those on Career Contessa and PR Couture, are particularly impactful. When you’re in the thick of the job search, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone in the world. Reading others’ stories and how they overcame to rise to success can force you to realize that what you’re going through is more universal than you think.
2. Get Connected
In PR, it’s all about who you know—and that’s never more true than when it comes to landing your dream job.
So, start putting yourself out there, attending events, cultivating relationships with those you meet outside of your company, and joining industry organizations. If you’re not already involved, I recommend starting with PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) and PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) if you’re a student. In addition to the training opportunities and events, members get access to a comprehensive agency list and expansive job board—giving you a ton of bang for your buck. Local or industry-specific organizations can also be great resources, so ask around to find out which your colleagues belong to and recommend.
Speaking of your colleagues, don’t forget about the network you already have—your industry friends, your old bosses, and especially your mentors or older, wiser contacts who know you and your career hopes and dreams. I once landed a coveted PR position at a global beauty brand in New York City because of a mentor! Tell your network what you’re looking for in your next move (here’s a great template to get you started), and you’ll likely find that more people than you’d think will be happy to help.
Oh, and treat your media contacts as your most prized possessions. They’re an incredible source of information on industry news and happenings, and they can be privy to information before it becomes public, including—of course—PR moves and openings.
3. Get Social
You’ve heard it before, but it’s crucial to start thinking of yourself—your personal style, your specialty, your skills, your experience—as a brand. And today, the best, and easiest place to do this is on social media.
Start with a photo and a bio that’s consistent across your online profiles, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, your blog, and anything other site you have a presence on. Both should showcase your personality and professional expertise in a compelling way—think of them as your virtual elevator pitch.
Then, identify some content you’d like to share—anything from witty tweets to full-length posts on your blog or LinkedIn. Your content can be a mix of professional and personal, but it should always have a tie-in to your brand. Then, start sharing! Post regularly to create a steady stream of outgoing content, engage your audience by participating in online conversations, and connect with other brands (both companies and people). Once your brand is up and running smoothly, just remember to keep it polished and above all, true to you.
4. Get Out There
You’re researching, you’re building (and showing off!) your skills, you’re networking—now it’s time to do what you do best as a PR pro, but this time, for your own benefit. Pitch yourself!
Start by identifying a list of companies you’d love to work for, as well as their key players. Whether you choose to go in-house or work for an agency, this will serve two purposes: It will help you focus and target your job search, and it will help you stay in the know on who’s who in the industry.
See some open positions at these dream companies? Great—start crafting your pitch (read: cover letter). Start with the basics: who you are, why you’re writing, your hook or angle and why it’s compelling, and a simple call to action. Get creative—think about the best pitches you’ve written, take the strongest parts of those, and apply them. Above all, keep it interesting to read and unique. No one likes to read form letters, especially potential employers.
If you don’t see anything you can apply to yet, don’t lose hope. In fact, drive and persistence pays off in PR! Use those connections you have to try and get a foot in the door, reach out to people who work for your dream companies and ask for their advice on getting hired, and show everyone you interact with just how great you are.
As a final note, the last part of the process is something that is critical in PR: follow up. Not only does it show that you’re genuinely interested in the company, but it proves you’re a go-getter. The general rule of thumb is one week for the initial follow up, then two weeks after that for any subsequent attempts.
With a dream, hard work, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of confidence, you’re bound to find yourself in your dream PR job. Good luck!