PR Companies: Who Are They Hiring?
Getting your foot in the door of PR is the easy part. How to make sure the door doesn’t get slammed in your face is what most people want to know. Whether you’re interested in corporate, celebrity, publishing, government, hotel, travel, small business, or international public relations, you have to start at the ground level. (And beware, some companies will make you start subterranean.) Knowing what companies are looking for is the first step in helping you decide if PR is the right path for you.
I don’t want to bore you with the basics. I’ll just call it the three imperative Ps: Personality, Professionalism, and Punctuality. Show up every day, on time, wearing a suit and a smile, and you’re already a few points up on the guy sitting next to you – the tardy, unkempt sourpuss. I am going to make an overly optimistic assumption and say that if you are reading this right now, you know what companies look for in an employee. You’ve created a resume before (or checked out MediaBuzz’s fabulous resources). You’ve applied for jobs. You’ve had some experience—from fast food cashier to hotel receptionist to lawn mower man to full-time college student. You don’t want to know what companies are looking for in an employee. You want to know what a PR company is looking for in an employee.
The answer really is simple. Ready? Wait for it… Clients want someone to make them look good.
If it sounds self-serving, it’s because on some levels it is. But think about it for just a minute. Tiger Woods, Britney Spears, Google, Microsoft, Hilton, the President of the United States, General Motors…the list of possible clients is endless. All of the above needs a voice. And that is where PR comes in.
Have you ever called a big-time company for an interview? You are almost always transferred to PR. Have you ever read a statement on a hot scandal? It’s most often relayed by PR. Ever watch Entertainment Tonight or read an AP news article? “Calls from Joe Smith’s publicist were not immediately returned.” You’ve seen that statement everywhere and heard it often.
PR professionals aren’t just the filter for the media hounds; they are also problem-solvers, coordinators, and representatives of the company’s image. It’s an extremely important role. Sure, there’s dirty work—cleaning up media spills, making vague statements to the press on your company’s behalf, and responding “no comment” to incessant callers. But equally, if not more, important, they are responsible for proactively getting the client’s image out into the world in a positive light. Companies need a superstar out there spreading the good word about their company, lifting morale, and answering questions for the too-busy execs and celebs. If it sounds negative, I certainly don’t mean to scare you away. It’s the reality. You are representing your client to the world, and it’s imperative to understand that the ego is the most sensitive part of the whole. Bruise it and people will throw it out with the garbage.
That’s why, if you’ve got the three Ps, the guy sitting next to you hasn’t got a chance.
But I’m going to add a fourth P to the mix just for kicks. In my opinion, the MOST important of them all: Passion. If you don’t have passion for what or whom you are representing to the world, you will not succeed. If every day you go out and tell people how wonderful your client is, but you don’t truly believe it, you will not succeed. If you’re undermining your own moral compass to promote a product, you will not succeed. Not in your job, and certainly not in life. You should always love what you do. But in PR, if you don’t love what you do, it will make it very hard for others to love it, too.
Coming Next Week: The Logistics. Now that you know the one thing PR companies really want, what steps can you take to land that dream job? I’ll touch on educational background, work experience, and what to avoid when applying to a PR position.
“Everything You Want to Know About PR…” is a weekly column from Rachel Neal, a novice to the public relations industry. Rachel invites you to join her on her journey from peon to PR professional, as she attempts to help other PR neophytes on their own career paths.