Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy, a leading provider of public relations and communication education. Her special areas of interest are internal communication and project communication.
Ann leads PR Academy’s CIPR internal comms certificate.
I often take calls from people wanting to work in PR. They want to know about courses naturally – the CIPR Foundation is great for those starting out - but often also how they should go about getting a foot in the door. I point them to resources on the CIPR and PRCA websites but also increasingly to the text “How to get a job in PR” by Sarah Stimson.
I recommend it because it answers just about every question someone wanting to enter this fascinating business could possible ask.
One of the things that I get asked regularly is how to get experience. Sarah has a whole chapter on the difference between work experience and internships and how to make the most of the latter. As she says: "Internships can be a really brilliant way to get a feeling for the kind of PR you’re suited to, and which company cultures you enjoy working in, so make the most of them.”
Each chapter is backed up with contributions from both practice and academia. For example, on the subject of internships, Steve McCool, Founder, Message Consultants suggests: “In the early stages of your career, having one or more chunks of work experience will give you an advantage. Ideally in a PR agency, but stints in communications, marketing, branding or events are all good.”
Sarah is well placed to write this book, she is a highly experienced PR recruiter so she knows exactly what employers are looking for. As she says, your CV will probably get looked at for no more than 30 seconds before the decision to interview or not is made, so you need to get it right. As well as guidance on this there is of course lots of helpful stuff on the interview process.
However, the advice doesn’t end with the offer letter. The book also guides the ‘newbie’ on what to once at work. I really liked this because for someone who has never worked in an office environment before it must all seem a bit alien.
Sarah also talks about going freelance (more on this in my earlier blog too), part time and taking a career break. And how does the book end? Well, with how to resign of course! Seriously though, this is something that you don’t often see advice on but it does matter. As Nina Arnott, Head of Public Relations, Post Office is quoted as saying: “Be graceful, however difficult the circumstances. PR is a very small industry and you will cross paths again!”
So if you are thinking of a career in PR, have a look at Sarah's book. I liked the fact that 10% of the royalties from this book will be donated to the Taylor Bennett Foundation.
Have you recently got your first job in PR? How did you do it? What tips would you share? And if you are after an entry level qualification take a look at PR Academy's MOOC which is free and the CIPR Foundation in PR.