CAREERS ADVICE WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATION? Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation forsurvival and success. Customers, suppliers, employees, investors, journalists and regulatorscan have a powerful impact. They all have an opinion about the organisations they come intocontact with - whether good or bad, right or wrong. These perceptions will drive theirdecisions about whether they want to work with, shop with and support these organisations. Intodays competitive market and uncertain economic climate reputation can be a companysbiggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you a competitiveedge. Effective PR can help manage reputation by communicating and building goodrelationships with all organisation stakeholders. Definitions of PR Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and whatothers say about you. It is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earningunderstanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned andsustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between anorganisation and its publics. The UK PR industry is the most highly developed in Europe andsecond only to the US globally. Over the past decade there has been a high growth rate in theprofession. This high growth rate reflects the recognition and importance given to publicrelations. Is PR for you? First of all it is important to establish what your expectations of public relations are.Reading through the careers information on this website will give you an idea of whatworking in PR involves. PR is not is the stereotypical image portrayed on the TV whichincludes long boozy lunches and glamorous parties. While the role will include thisoccasionally it will probably not be in your junior roles. PR is a very rewarding career but itinvolves a lot of hard work, dedication, professionalism and stamina. It can offer an incrediblyvaried and challenging career, encompassing many different activities. As with many jobs, theproof is in the pudding and you will only find out if you are suited to PR through experiencein the field. Some questions to ask yourself when considering PR as a career… Do I have an interest in whats going on around me? PR practitioners need to be aware of current trends and issues. Keeping up to date with theworld around you is vital when advising clients or brainstorming campaign ideas. Make sureyou read a daily paper or watch the news or the occasional current affairs programme. Or ifthere is a particular sector of PR you want to go into read up on what is currently going on inthat industry. It will show commitment and a genuine interest to your prospective career. Do I have good communication skills?
PR practitioners must be confident talking to a wide range of people – for example, yourrole may involve presenting to clients, dealing with journalists and meeting with groups ofpeople important to your organisation or client. You also need to have excellent writing skillsas you could be producing press releases, annual reports, articles and newsletters. There are certain essential qualities and skills that you will need to get ahead in PR These include: Excellent verbal and written communication skills The ability to multi task and manage your time effectively A good level of organisation and planning An interest in all forms of media Flexibility Do I cope well under pressure? PR roles can be incredibly varied so you will need to be able to organise your workload inorder to meet strict deadlines. The ability to multi task is essential, and a flexible attitudeimportant. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, then PR is probably not for you – your positionmay involve early starts, late finishes or time at the weekend. WORKING IN PR What is it really like working in public relations? Within this section you will be able toread case studies from practitioners working both in-house and within an agency giving you areal insight into the working world of PR. WHICH SECTOR Did you know that you can work in PR whatever your subject background? PR encompasses an incredibly broad spectrum of sectors. There are public relations roleswithin all sorts of industries and organisations, with all that choice; it can often be hard toknow where to start. A good starting point is to find out as much as you can about the variousindustry sectors to see if any suit your particular interests and skills. For example if you read pharmacology at university you could do the PR for a medical orpharmaceutical company. Or did you read engineering? Well you too can work in PR, placessuch a refineries will have a comprehensive CSR team should they have a fire or chemicalleak. Some examples of the different sectors can be found below:Business to business (B2B) Internal communicationsConsumer InternationalCharity/Not-for-profit Music and entertainmentCSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Motor IndustryConstruction Property
Corporate and Financial Public affairsEducation (i.e. universities) Public sectorFashion SportFinancial TechnologyFood TravelHealthcare Science and Engineering Of course, some sectors will always attract far more graduates than others. Its worthbearing this in mind when youre looking for your first job; avoiding the obvious choices canreduce your competition for a role, helping you to secure employment more quickly and getthat all-important work experience. If you are focused on moving into a specific sector, then make sure you know your stuff –research the main organisations that operate within the industry, find out about specialist PRconsultancies and keep up to date with current trends and issues. PR SECTORAL CASE STUDIESConsumer PRHealth and MedicalPublic sector - Local Council PRMarketing CommunicationsTransportationCorporate and FinancialInternal Communications FINDING WORK Currently finding work in any industry is not as easy as it was even a year ago, but we arehere to help point you in the right direction. Where to start looking:The CIPR website - PR Jobshop As you are currently on the CIPRs website reading this, why not make Jobshop your firstpoint of call when looking for a job. The jobs on the website cover the whole of the UK andall of the different PR sectors.Newspapers – Online and print For public relations and communications jobs, make sure you read the Media Guardianreligiously every Monday (and Saturdays paper can also be good for graduate positions).Wading through job adverts can be a little depressing at times, especially if there doesnt seemto be anything suitable, so dont make this the sole focus of your job hunt. All papers nowhave on-line job sections; dont forget to check your local paper too.Individual PR company websites
If there is a particular PR company you want to work for then make sure you regularlycheck their website for job adverts. You may also find they advertise graduates are welcometo submit their CV for consideration at any point throughout the year.Recruitment consultants – online and company based There is no shortage of recruitment consultants, but it is often hard to know which to use.There are a number that specialise in PR and the communications industry such as VMA andPathfinders. Then there are big general agencies such as Reed and Monster; then there are allthe individual ones that you will need to go into to meet with a consultant and have them toaccess your CV so they can discuss all the options available to you. Tip: When emailing a recruitment consultant put your name in the subject line of theemail when initially sending your CV and any specific reference number of a job you areapplying for. This makes it easier for the consultant to find your email when goingthrough the huge volume of CVs they receive each day. Going to recruitment consultants can at times be very disheartening, but do not put all youreggs in one basket, go and sign up to as many as you can, and then keep in touch with them.You will soon learn which ones will make an effort to help you find a job and which ones willsimply keep your CV on file and do nothing for you. Also remember on average it can takeyou about 3 months to get a job, so make sure they have you on the books to do whatevertemp work becomes available. PRWeek As part of your CIPR membership you will get PRWeek for free; make sure you check allthe job adverts each week.Networking As a CIPR member make the most of your membership and the opportunities available foryou to network regionally. You never know who you might get to talk to and who might behiring. But dont make your opening line at a CIPR event, - Hi I am looking for a job. It is not professional. While the rule of it never hurts to ask does apply, subtlety and tactare also key.Graduate training programmes and work placements Companies normally advertise these on their websites and there are usually strict deadlinesto adhere to. Lots of research is required. You may also hear of opportunities through youruniversity. Some work placements can be found advertised on the student website, but thereare others available as well.Graduate careers fairs
These are great to go to and often free, many though are in London. The Grad Jobs websiteis worth checking out as they hold one of the biggest graduate recruitment and workplacement fairs in London, Birmingham and Manchester. At these fairs companies are looking to hire, offer work experience or advertise theirgraduate schemes. One thing to take note of is that many large fairs will cover all theprofessions so you may have to hunt to find those offering PR roles. If none are openlyadvertising PR, remember all big companies will probably have an in-house PR team so itcant hurt to ask them if they know of any openings within their press team or if they can giveyou the contact details of someone within the HR department you can talk to.The Milk round This is where companies tour universities to promote and advertise their job opportunitiesdirectly to candidates. In recent years a lot of this has moved online. Checkout the milk roundwebsite to see what is available.Temp work Temp work is a great way of gaining experience in a relevant industry while you are jobhunting. Many people have also ended up being offered a job within a company they aretemping for if the company is impressed with the work the person is undertaking, and aposition becomes available. Jobs can often be advertised internally before they are thenadvertised publicly. Temping is also a great way of securing some income while you areunemployed as rent still has to be paid. Make sure your phone is on from about 7am each dayif youre waiting to be offered temp work as recruitment companies will have many people ontheir books and you wont want to miss your opportunity if your phone is switched off!Getting that job Finding employment is very time consuming and can be very disheartening if its notinitially going your way, but dont give up! Give yourself the best chance by using acombination of the techniques above and by ensuring you target your applications carefully.For advice on preparing winning CVs, writing cover letters and succeeding at interviews,check out the other sections under careers advice. Also be prepared to take a job that is not100% what you hoped for, you never know it could open up possibilities you didnt evenknow about, and you dont have to stay there forever, the job market is much more transientthan it used to be .CV Guide The purpose of a CV is to offer a snap shot of you, so you can grab the prospectiveemployers attention and make them want to call you in for an interview.Why a CV is important In the current market it is becoming increasingly hard to get to the interview stage, withhundreds of people applying for one position. It is very important that your CV is as good as itcan possibly be and stands out amongst all the others. You need to devote a great deal of timeand effort into writing a CV because it is vitally important that its construction, presentation
and delivery are beyond reproach. It is also helpful to be aware of common mythssurrounding CVs. To work in PR you must have impeccable writing skills and an excellent command of theEnglish language. If your CV has mistakes in it, one, it demonstrates a lack of care and two,that you probably have poor writing skills, so you might not even be considered for aninterview. The most important elements of a CV are, in order of priority: 1. Accuracy of information 2. Spelling 3. Grammar 4. Detailed work history 5. Layout 6. Document length Most recruitment agencies believe an employer makes a decision about a CV within 30seconds. This means many CVs are judged purely on how they look. Also on average, readersabsorb 60% of the first page and 40% of the second, so think quality not quantity; alwaysinclude the most relevant information on the first page of your CV. You can make an instant impression by: Keeping your CV short - no more than two pages, any longer could be detrimental Using good quality paper - a light coloured paper could make your CV stand out from the crowd, but you cant go wrong with white Lay out information using clear section headings to make it easier to navigate Use bullet points to describe things like duties, responsibilities and achievements Generally, the format of a CV is up to the individual, as long as it is easily understood. Thecontent is relatively standard from one CV to the next: personal details, profile/summary,educational details, work history, leisure interests, additional information, references, makesure though you take the time to tailor your CV to each individual job you are applying for ,employers can spot a generic CV. Each job you go for will want different skills andexperiences from you. Your personal profile is the section that normally appears first on a CV. This paragraph isvery important, keep it to around 100 words. It gives you the chance to provide the employerwith details about yourself that do not appear in any other part of the document. This is youropportunity to sell yourself and describe what you have to offer the employer in terms ofpersonal skills and attributes. Explaining about your work history is quite difficult. Concentrate on providing just enoughinformation for the reader to gain an accurate picture of your role. Many people have atendency to go into complicated wordy detail about their previous responsibilities, but thisshould be avoided - simple and straight forward explanations will suffice and are easier toread. Obviously if you are at university you may only have summer jobs, but these are just asrelevant.
Tip: Dont list work experience/employment in the wrong order. Always put your mostrecent position first. Make sure that you read up on the organisation you are applying for. Get to know how theypresent themselves, this will give you an idea of what kind of person they might be lookingfor in a candidate. Consider if you have any skills, interests or experience that would berelevant to what they might be looking for in an employee. If you can, tailor your CV to match the language and feeling of the organisation used ontheir website. Tailoring your CV to match the kind of tone they use will signal to theprospective organisation that you might be the kind of candidate they want to recruit. It willalso help them answer that all important question – will this person fit into our team? Discuss areas of responsibility you have had, skills youve acquired etc. Always try to bespecific about what you have done (i.e. managed two staff, responsible for a budget,completed a project, used specific systems such as Lotus or Quark Express). Vaguegeneralities do little to sell your skills to employers. Where possible, use positive actionwords to describe your work duties (action words draw a visual picture to the reader of a hardworking, dynamic individual). Although leisure interests are not as important as the main body of your CV, they doprovide an employer with some insight into what you are like out of work. Often employersuse this section to assess your personal qualities, so remember not to overlook it, but keep itnear the end of your CV. References always appear last on the CV and can be dealt with by available on requestrather than listing individual contact details. Tip: Dont include your required salary within your CV. You will either underestimateyourself or overestimate. Either way it will not do you any favors. Negotiate this afteryouve got the job! Tip: Always get someone else to proof your CV no one can 100% proof their ownwork, you will always miss something. You will find that if you try to adhere to these basic rules when compiling your CV, youshould be well on your way to gaining that all important interview. Good luck! Cover Letters Remember to customise your cover letter for all of the different jobs/internships you applyfor. Generally you should always attach a covering letter, unless just a CV is requested or youhave to fill in an application form. Structure of the letter: should be no longer than one page no more than three or four short paragraphs
the first paragraph should state your interest in the job the second paragraph should summarise your background the third paragraph requests an interview. Sign Yours sincerely and type your name in full under your handwritten signature. If you are writing about a work placement/internship you should never write a letter whichbegins, "I am required as part of my public relations course to expand my experience in the publicrelations field. I am writing to you to request a work placement". This is not a positive way to approach a company, put yourself in their shoes, would youtake someone on from an opening like that, probably not. Never address a letter Dear Sir/Madam, it will probably go unanswered, as it shows a lackof effort on your part to find out who to address the letter to, also how would you like it if youwere written to as Dear student? Ensure you have the correct spelling of the name and title of the person and company youare you are writing to. Always ensure your home address, landline and/or mobile number and email address are onthe covering letter. When adding your email address it might be preferable to create a newprofessional email account, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Never handwrite a cover letter unless specifically requested. Dont photocopy and mass produce the same letter and fill in the details later, it looks sloppyand obviously mass produced, which tells a potential employer that you couldnt be botheredwriting to them individually. Print your cover letter on paper that matches your CV. Dont be tempted to put too much detail in your cover letters, they are only an introduction.Important information, such as your skills, should be in your CV already. Avoid repetition! When answering ads requesting a cover letter, make sure you include all the informationthey have asked for. Some of the things you might want to consider putting in your cover letter: your desire to work for their organisation your commitment to the public relations/communications industry proficiency in turning your theoretical knowledge into practice determination to be a valued member of their organisation your ability to work as part of a team also if you are writing about work experience you can mention you are willing to work for free (this will be the case 90% of the time, it is quite rare to gain paid work experience). Sample cover letter
The following links below offer a number of cover letter examples. Please do not copy these verbatim, they are just examples to guide you towards writing yourown. Remember being able to write well and creatively is essential in PR so you should applythese skills to your cover letter. Work experience cover letter Undergraduate job application cover letter Graduate job application cover letter Internship cover letter Previous intern job application cover letter Interview Advice Below are some tips on attending interviews. This is not a fool proof guide, just somesuggestions to point you in the right direction. Like anything else in life, the key to success is preparation and practice. Thinking about your answers to the following questions should help get you through yourinterview without too much stress: What do I know about the organisation? What do I know about the job? What is my short response to “Tell me about yourself”? Tip: This is a common question so you can prepare a standard answer but try not to make it sound too rehearsed. Give details of your degree, relevant work experience and your range of skills. Don’t talk for longer than five minutes. Try to tailor this script to the position applied for. What do I know about the interviewer and the selection process? What points are unique about me and support my application? What achievements will the interviewer be most interested in? Tip: Be careful here. The last thing that an employer wants to hear is “my degree”. Guess what? Everyone applying 9ort he job has a degree so make sure you have an example that makes you stand out from the other candidates. Choose an achievement that relates to the skills required 9ort he job. For example you might have organised an event and secured press coverage. Show where you demonstrated commitment, organisation and took on extra responsibility. What possible problem areas are there in my application and how can I put them positively? What would I like my referees to say about my experience and achievements?
Tell me where you have faced a difficult situation and how you overcame it? Tip: The interviewer wants to know what you consider to be ‘difficult’, where you have been under pressure, how you have coped, and whether you can take a logical approach to solve the problem. Again beware. Try not to describe a problem that was your fault. Describe how you identified the problem, how you approached the issue and how you resolved the situation. Always end on a positive stating what you learned from this situation. What lasting impression do I want to leave? Can I demonstrate enthusiasm 10ort he job? What are your strengths? Tip: You will always be asked this question so prepare and back up your statements with examples. Prepare five key strengths such as confidence, motivation, tenacity, positive attitude, etc and explain why these attributes would be beneficial 10ort he role you have applied for. What are your greatest weaknesses? Tip: Do not say “well I’m a bit of a perfectionist” because the interviewer will have heard that a million time before and will not believe you. As a graduate, chances are you will lack experience (not ability) in one area but you are a quick learner and with appropriate training this would not be a problem. You can also use a personal weakness but try to describe how the interviewer could also consider it a strength. PR Dictionary Below are a number of terms that you may come across when researching or first enteringPR. Above the line: Advertising that is talking at you, e.g. television, radio, posters. Below the line: Advertising that is talking to you, e.g. direct mail, point of purchase, leaflets. Blog: Is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Brand: A product or service that has been refined and given a registered name to distinguish it from other products/services. Brief: The outline of what needs to be done on a project. B2B: (Business to Business) Public relations marketing communication dedicated to providing information resources between businesses. Includes professional services, training, human resources and office supplies. B2C: (Business to Consumer) As B2B, but between businesses and the consumer.
Community Relations: Corporate social outreach programmes designed to build relations and foster understanding of the role of the business to neighbours in the local community. Consultancy: Externally hired public relations services, either an individual consultant or a public relations consultancy. Copy: Written material for printing, the text of an advertisement, a press release or an article that is being written (before it has been published). Copywriting: The production of text for publications, advertising, marketing materials, websites etc. Most agencies employ specialists skilled with a direct and succinct writing style. Corporate identity: The ways in which companies identify and brand themselves. This can be through logos, house style and uniforms. Corporate Communications: Public relations for a corporation integrated as part of the companys strategic objectives. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Borne from the belief that trade brings obligations, CSR makes companies responsible for their use of resources, both environmentally and socially. The role of public relations in CSR strategies is to communicate effectively to build corporate accountability and transparency. Crisis Management:Having a plan in place that can be effectively actioned when something goes wrong for an organisation. Embargo: In international commerce and politics, an embargo is the exclusion of commerce (division of trade) and trade with a certain country, in order to isolate it and to put its government into a difficult internal situation, given that the effects of the embargo are often able to make its economy suffer from the initiative. The embargo is usually used as a political punishment for some previous disagreed policies or acts, but its economic nature frequently raises doubts about the real interests that the prohibition serves. Environmental Communications: PR sector specialising in communication on sustainable use of resources, environmental impact of business and corporate social responsibility. E-PR/Online PR: Communicating over the web and using new technology to effectively communicate with stakeholders. Evaluation:Measuring the impact of a public relations campaign. This process is typically linked with planning and research. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG): Are products that are sold quickly at relatively low cost. Though the absolute profit made on FMCG products is relatively small, they generally sell in large quantities, so the cumulative profit on such products can be large. Examples of FMCG generally include a wide range of frequently purchased consumer products such as toiletries, soap, cosmetics; as well as other non- durables such as batteries, paper products and plastic. FMCG may also include pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, packaged food products and drinks. Fees: The charges consultants and consultancies make for the time of their staff working on client programmes, usually invoiced in regular monthly instalments or quarterly in advance. Financial PR: Financial services sector communications demanding understanding of consumers, their buying patterns and how to influence them, the position of companies in markets and corporate processes such as Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As), demutualisation and hostile bids. Fundraising/Sponsorship: Looking for partners to provide financial support or support in kind for an event or activity where both parties will benefit.
Healthcare Communications: PR sector specialising in public and private healthcare provision, including leisure health, effect of drugs and impacts of medical research. In-House Magazines/Newsletter: A tool to communicate with employees about news, issues and developments of interest to them about the organisation they work for. In-House: Staff within a company or organisation responsible for public relations function. Internal Communications: Organisational use of process communication to help achieve corporate objectives. Includes employee and shareholder communications. Marketing communications (marcomms): Are messages and related media used to communicate with a market. Marketing communications focuses on product or service as opposed to a corporate communication. Media/Presentation Training: Training to help when dealing with the various media (including television and radio), with journalists and when making a pitch to prospective clients. Media Monitoring: Monitoring a companys coverage in the press, on TV and radio, and on the internet. Media Relations: Dealing with and building up good working relationships with journalists from the broadcast and print media. News/press release: Written information that is deemed to be newsworthy. Often sent out to journalists and/or interested parties. Pitch: A presentation of a recommended public relations programme, generally carefully researched and costed, which can take up to four weeks to prepare and for which some consultancies reserve the right to charge a fee if not subsequently appointed. Podcast: A podcast is a series of digital computer files, usually either digital audio or video that is released periodically and made available for download. New files can be downloaded automatically by the podcatcher and stored locally on the users computer or other device for offline use, making it simpler for the user to download content that is released episodically. Press Release (also known as a News Release): Statement describing an event or item which is considered to be of sufficient interest to readers/viewers/listeners for an editor to publish reference to it. Print Production: The process of producing printed material such as brochures, posters and leaflets. Public Affairs/Lobbying: Those aspects of public relations communication involving relations with governmental or statutory bodies or their semi-official organisations through sophisticated use of political intelligence and pressure. Public Relations: The determined, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. Also understood as reputation management. Publics: Audiences important to the organisation. Research: Finding out background information about a company, product or person to assist with a public relations campaign. Social media: Can take many different forms, including internet forums, message boards, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, to name a few. Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking).
Social Messaging: A social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time for example, Twitter. Spokesperson: The PR person authorised to speak on behalf of an organisation/individual. Stakeholders: Can also be referred to as publics; audiences important to the organisation. Target market: The audience(s) the organisation has chosen to whom to communicate its key messages. Interesting Articles Thanks to the internet media is now growing at a phenomenal rate, while this has itsadvantages it can also have it disadvantages, such as it is now easy to miss news articles thatmay be of interest to you. On this page we will post a number of articles that we think mightbe of interest to students and graduates. If you come across something yourself that you think would be of value to student memberssend it in to Malcolm White MalcolmW@cipr.co.uk at the CIPR for consideration and ifrelevant well post it on the website.http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/training-qualifications/pr-student/careers-advice/articles-interest WORK PLACEMENTS The public relations industry in the UK is thriving as the importance of reputation isunderstood more and more by businesses. The PR market is particularly strong in cities, butthe seeming abundance of PR agencies and in-house teams doesnt always mean that there is asurplus of jobs. This can mean that it is tough for students who are seeking work experienceand/or their first PR job. This section has tips on where to look for work experienceopportunities and a Work Placement Finder with information on organisations looking forstudents to help them out.