Want a career in PR?

I am often asked for advice on a career in the PR industry. Here are just a five thoughts...

Pay your dues. When you are first starting off in a career in PR, you really need to ring fence a few years just for gaining good, hardworking, unglamorous experience. Get your head down and slog, rather than thinking about the glory. If you get genuine experience early on, you'll have a solid foundation to build on when the bigger, more exciting opportunities come along.

Be nice to people. It is the right thing to do. And people will remember you later in your career. PR is obviously about managing relationships. Build relationships with journalists - not just for the story you are currently working on but for longer term benefits. Same goes for clients and colleagues - and not just the marketing director. Where will the most junior member of staff that you deal be in five years' time?

Take a risk! In PR, if you risk nothing, you win nothing. Don't be afraid of big ideas, however new you are to the industry. Back your own thoughts and beliefs and you will get noticed. Big, crazy, outlandish ideas often pave the way to killer concepts that are more realistic.

Read... a lot! Read PR text books and industry publications, read biographies for media and PR people and borrow ideas that you can put in your own words. You are not expected to know everything when you first join the profession but your proactive ideas are what will set you apart. Consider studying PR at undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Do work you are proud of, at the highest level you are allowed to. If it is writing a press release, make it your best. As soon as you can, enter PR industry awards. People who are negative about awards have never won any! Be healthily cynical about them but the process of entering them will help you evaluate what you are proud of and how to communicate this to other people.

And, one final bonus point... make sure you keep checking careers sections of websites.

Good luck!


Justin McKeown, Divisional Director at Grayling, the second largest independent global PR consultancy in the world. Justin is a graduate of the BA PR at Leeds Met, where he studied between 1993 and 1997, gaining a first class honours degree. Winner of both the Halifax plc PR Student of the Year and Sinclair Mason Pitch Competition, Justin was also elected course representative. On graduating, Justin joined a Leeds-based PR consultancy. In the intervening years, including mergers and aquisitions,...

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