How to get a job in public relations - our expert guide for 2020!
Updated May 2020
Not sure if public relations is the right career path for you? Perhaps you are not sure where to start? or how to research the role? Have a read of the below tips below to start the journey of finding your first job in the public relations sector.
- 1. Is PR the career for you?
- 2. Most PR staff require these qualities
- 3. What exactly is public relations?
- 4. How to actually find a job in PR?
- 5. Top tips for bagging a job in PR
- 6. Choosing between in-house or agency
- 7. How reaching out to newspapers could help you
- 8. The best places to find a job
- 9. Additional job searching sources
- 10. Could a work placement help you?
- 11. More on internships and placements
- 12. Network like a pro
- 13. Find local PR and journalism events
- 14. PR blogs to keep you in the loop
- 15. Gift of the gab and how it can help
- 16. Do I need a degree to get a job in PR?
- 17. The role of SEO in PR
- 18. Further reading and sources
- 18. Average salary for PR staff
Is public relations the career for you?
Working within the public relations sector can be an extremely rewarding career with endless opportunities across every business sector imaginable. We will not lie; the job definitely has it's rewards, such as working closely with high profile celebrities, charities, prominent business leaders and often the chance to schmooze at champagne-fuelled events, which might seem wonderful at first flance, but we can assure you that it's not all glitz and glam!
Most PR staff require the following qualities
- The ability to spot and create a newsworthy angle that others would miss
- Good attention to detail, no editor wants to waste time proofing bad copy
- Someone who can act quickly and make decisions about what stories are relevant
- Good communication skills are a must, journalists often speak to people from all walks of life
- Public relations is a job that requires a lot of 'out of hours' work
What exactly is public relations?
Public relations, or PR (as it is known in short), is the administering of information from a source such as a business, which is then directed towards an audience. This could be anyone, from your average person, to journalists. The main goal of a public relations department is to enhance your business reputation, or to portray an organisation in a positive way. Simply put, you live and breathe the company.
How to find a job in public relations?
It is vital to research the area you want to enter into within the PR sector, as each area varies with regard to your day-to-day workload and future opportunities. We are not suggesting that you be meticulous about accepting your first job offer, but it is better to target a niche area you may enjoy and research it thoroughly.
For example, if you think that a PR career within a charity organisation matches well with your personality, find out as much information on the processes and the required skills within the sector, as this will give you a competitive edge.
A useful tip is to determine what the current public relations teams is doing within that company. You can do this by researching the previous coverage they have published. This could be found in newspapers, blogs, and websites. This demonstrates your interest in their company, and shows diligence and determination. Read as much as you can find.
A practical way to do this is through custom Google searches. For example, if you were interested in a job opportunity at the British Heart Foundation, some Google operators would return recent press coverage in two newspapers. These provide examples of the charity’s current press campaigns or events, and would be great to mention in an interview.
- site:guardian.co.uk "British heart foundation" or "bhf"
- site:independent.co.uk "British heart foundation" or "bhf"
Another tip that will help to keep your finger on the pulse is to set up Google Alerts for certain keywords. Each time Google caches new data, you receive the details immediately, whether it is a blog post mentioning a brand name, or a news site.
Top tips for bagging a PR job anywhere
Choosing between PR agency or in-house
Working in-house, or at a PR agency, offers both advantages and drawbacks, so it is a good idea to think about the best choice for you, and your future, before you commit further.
PR agencies often work with multiple clients on a variety of campaigns that represent different roles and opportunities. This can provide you with great work experience opportunities.
In just one day, you might have to work on several projects. This is advantageous if you prefer a challenging role. However, it may be disconcerting, especially if you would rather dedicate your time to certain campaigns over a longer period.
If you choose to work in-house for a large company, you will not be offered the variation of projects that you would get within an agency. This might not sound too bad, but if you are working on the same campaign day in day out, it may become laborious, repetitive, and slightly unexciting.
However, an advantage might be that you have the job security of working within a large company, which quite often results in a higher payment structure. Not to mention, the greater opportunities for promotion. You might even get the chance to migrate to another country.
Reach out to major newspapers
The majority of all publications in the UK have a jobs portal for inside jobs, it might be worth keeping an eye on these for when PR jobs are posted. For example the latest PR jobs at national newspapers such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail or BellingCat - all you need to do is pop a simple query into google and find the jobs page.
Best places to look for public relation jobs
There are thousands of job sites across the Internet. Some are great, while others are riddled with spam, so finding the most helpful sites can be a mammoth process.
The best advice we offer is to browse job boards, which specialise in public relation careers. These sites not only offer the latest PR jobs, but also blog posts and articles providing a wealth of information related to this industry.
One of the most popular PR job boards is the Guardian PR jobs board. As this particular jobs board is expensive for employers to post upon, you can be rest assured that the jobs are legitimate and from reputable companies. The PR Week job board is another excellent resource run by one of the leading PR news websites, which gives it excellent industry coverage and respect.
PR Moment is an independent job board run by an online PR magazine.
Marketing Week is another frequently updated resource that is widely used and equally popular.
Graduates can tap into the official government careers website www.prospects.ac.uk which has direct links to a range of universities.
- Cision Jobs
- Indeed PR Jobs
- Guardian Marketing & PR Jobs
- Third Sector Jobs [Charity PR Jobs]
- Simply Marketing Jobs
- Total PR Jobs
Many PR companies prefer to keep job postings local, and do not advertise on national websites. With this in mind, browse the Hollis PR directory, which provides an updated list of PR agencies in the UK. Click the individual websites and check their career section for job opportunities.
Other helpful ways to find PR work opportunities includes visiting the specialist PR recruitment agencies who will help you find a job. These are sometimes a last resort, as they may administer a fee, and the roles are often temporary. However, if you are searching for short-term employment or general work experience, this could be a preferred option.
Public relations work placements
With the current rate of unemployment in the UK, you may find it difficult to secure your first job in public relations with no background in the industry and even with degree. It's good idea to get work experience in the field, help out a local charity or carry out a placement with a PR company. This will boost your CV, whilst providing the quality "hands on" experience that employers like to see.
Finding a placement is often easy, as many companies offer opportunities such as these, due to the lower paid salary.
A simple, yet effective way to search for a placement is to write a covering letter to one or more companies asking them if there is availability in a placement. Explain your current situation and how you want to be acquainted with a career in PR.
How to find an internship or placement
- Search the latest intern jobs on Indeed
- Intern jobs posted on Linkedin
- Find internships with the PRCA
- Research local charities in your area or by specific sector here
Network like a pro
Quite often, the success of a PR campaign relies on who you know. It is vital to network with people already within the industry, and to create close working relationships with other PR professionals. Social media has made this easy. Within minutes, you can set up a Twitter account and follow a plethora of leading people in the PR industry. If you feel confident enough, you could even introduce yourself.
One of the best resources to join, and for PR industry interaction, is the business social networking site, LinkedIn. You can setup a profile, join PR groups, view job postings from companies, get your name recognised, and interact with potential employers and colleagues.
Facebook also has a huge selection of Public Relation groups, which you can join and interact with.
Another good idea is to break away from the screen and visit one or more of the various networking events, meet ups and conferences. While there, you can meet people in the PR industry and share contacts. This can be vital whilst you are searching for work or placements, and it helps build up your future contacts.
Here are some useful websites to find local events:
- Meetup Journalism Events
- Meetup Reporters and Journalists Meetups
- PRweek Journalist/ Reporters Events
PR blogs to keep your eye on
Keep an eye on the PR industry by reading blogs and news about public relations, or you can network at events and learn more about the industry and current trends. We have selected our favourite PR blogs for you to peruse:
Gift of the Gab
Depending on the PR sector you enter into, having the "gift of the gab" could be vital to whether your career is a successful one. After all, PR is all about communicating with the public. You must be comfortable talking to people you do not know, whether on the phone, in person, on Skype, via email, or another mode of communication.
You also have to have a thick skin, as you will often find yourself trying to sell your story to journalists, or other media persons, who may express their disinterest often in an unfriendly manner. You must bite your tongue and move on. Do not worry though, as this career path helps build character.
You might find yourself having to sell something you do not necessary believe in, which can be hard to do if you struggle to find the right angle. Know your goals and source, and target the right people. You must speak with authority like you truly believe in your story. If you have no faith in your own product or story, it will be impossible to convince others.
Do I need a degree or good education to get a job in public relations?
If you have excellent persuasive and communication skills, then you have some of the rudimentary characteristics to start a prosperous career in public relations. A formal education is not always necessary, but it is always an advantage and provides you with the competitive edge against other applicants at least on paper. Like most job interviews, potential candidates are chosen based on their CV, so if you have relevant information to share, add it on there, along with any formal education.
If you want to start a career in PR but do not have any formal qualifications, it is worth searching and applying for entry-level jobs such as trainee or junior roles, which provide great starting roles. You may find it useful taking on work experience or a placement. These often lead to full-time employment at the same company.Employers do not always specifically look for a degree in public relations. Similar courses like journalism, new media, marketing, social media, and creative writing are further examples of what an employer might be searching for on your CV.
How SEO comes into public relations and why you should care
In this digital age, it is vital to have a good understanding of how to optimise PR campaigns, and make the most of SEO in an effort to increase a client's online visibility through multiple media channels.
There is a fantastic article from econsultancy called 'SEO PR', which covers what it is, and why you should care. It is worth a read and as an avenue for further research.
As one of the leading press release distribution companies in the UK we optimise all of our clients press release so they appear correctly in major search engines.-
Further reading and resources
What is the average salary PR workers?
According to job search engine firm Indeed, the average salary for a public relations associate in the United States is $45,520 per year, a PR manager would bring home $60,456 and the highest in the field being a Director of Communications would take away roughly $100,00 per annum.
In the United Kingdom the wages are slightly different according to Glass Door with a basic wage of £29,000 for a public relations officer working in London.
Salary difference by location:
- London, England + 22%
- Bristol, England: Bristol + 12%
- London, England: London + 8%
- Sheffield, England: South Yorkshire - 11%
- Nottingham, England: Nottinghamshire - 13%
- Manchester, England: Manchester - 15%
- PR officer at NHS - £24,000 per year
- Freelance PR at Debenhams - £8 per hour
- Comms officer Starbucks £19,000 per year
- PR role at HMRC - £31,000 per year
- Junior at Bell Pottinger - £8 per year
- Head of PR at BT - £74,000 per year
- HMRC PR manager- £31,000 per year