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How to get experience in...PR

Wednesday 15 April 2009 Work Experience

Applying for work experience is just like applying for a job, you need a professional approach, knowledge of your industry and the ability to stand out from your competition. Here’s some insider advice on breaking into a career where experience is crucial; public relations (PR).

Rebecca Jones, Director of communications agency, CHA, says there are ways to overcome a lack of experience in PR.

The PR industry is notoriously difficult to break without work experience, yet perversely a lot of employers in this sector don’t offer work experience schemes. There are, however, a number of PR agencies, such as CHA, that do offer paid and unpaid placements, so do your homework thoroughly – you may get lucky.

If it’s really not possible to get onto a work experience placement, then graduates can overcome their lack of experience in a number of ways.
 
Firstly, look for other opportunities to show your interest in your chosen field – if you can’t get work experience; make sure you have read up on the latest industry trends and news. Know what’s happening and have an opinion on it; employers will be impressed by your enthusiasm and attitude.
 
Secondly, think widely about what constitutes ‘experience’. If you cannot get direct PR experience, seek out opportunities that will enable you to learn and develop the same skills or are in a related industry – such as journalism or events.
 
Finally, look at your qualifications. They can be added to easily and quickly. You might be competing against many people with the same subjects at the same level as you – ask yourself how you can stand out. Taking an evening class in creative writing or web-design, might add some extra sparkle to your CV.

Kate Lowe’s PR top tips

Kate Lowe studied a BA (hons) sandwich degree on Public Relations at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), graduating in 2006. As part of her degree she was required to complete a 12 month placement with either a PR consultancy or in house team. She currently works for Manchester based agency FunkyFish PR specialising in event management.

I was lucky enough to have a great placements office at UCLan that I checked on a daily basis for new vacancies and applied for the ones that interested me. Another good place to look is on the CIPR’s website as they advertise jobs that are available all over the country.

I would say my biggest tip for getting work experience is to know your city and do some research into PR companies in the area. This can be as basic as doing a search on Yell.com and then googling the companies you find. This way you can see what is out there and who you think will be of interest to you. 

The next step is to work on your CV and covering letter. Take the time to tweak it to suit each company and you will get a better response. Also, thinking of something different and eye catching works well. I was once sent a baby shoe by someone with a cheeky message about getting their foot in the door, which made that person’s CV stand out.