So You Want A Career In PR?

I get contacted often enough about people thinking about pursuing a career in PR looking for advice, so I’m writing down my thoughts here so I can copy and past them in future.

1. Go for a cup of coffee for someone who works in PR – It never fails to surprise me that people will spend a lot of time and money to get into the world of public relations, but not actually have a clue what the world of communications involves. Meet someone for a cup of coffee, ask them what their day job involves and then decide if it’s the career for you. A simple step to save a lot of stress in the future.

2. Don’t waste your time with a PR degree – There only seems to be a couple of PR degree courses in Ireland to be fair, it seems to be a much bigger UK phenomenon, but you should not spend up to four years of your life to learn how to work in public relations. A different qualification will allow you to offer far better insights. If you really want to do a course, do a post graduate qualification, but to be honest you would be just as well off by buying a copy of Ellen Gunning’s book and teaching yourself. My biggest hangup about PR courses in Ireland is that there simply isn’t enough entry level positions to cater for the amount of students coming through each year.

3. Get experience – One of my biggest regrets from university was not doing a work placement over the summer. If you’re doing a four year course, you have three potential opportunities to do an internship and get to learn about the world of communications and see if it’s what you actually want to do. More importantly, it’s a great way to position yourself for a job with a future employer as there simply isn’t enough entry level positions out there.

4. Help out a charity – There’s no better way to gain experience and build media contacts by helping out a charity. It’s a great way to demonstrate to employers how capable you are.

5. Read papers, listen to the radio, watch TV and surf the web – I am consistently amazed at the amount of people I meet in interviews, who tell me they want to work in public relations, but can’t tell me much about what they read, watch or listen to. You have to know what is going on in the world around. How else will you be able to know what’s newsworthy, what is top of mind for the public and what inspires people to take action.

6. Be social – Besides the fact that your future employers will automatically assume you’re a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat et al addict, social media is actually one of the simplest ways to develop media relationships. It’s a window into journalists’ personalities and what they cover. You should also take a step back to understand what content works on social media channels and which organisations use it well from a communications perspective. It’s also important to familiarise yourself with things like the Facebook admin or the WordPress admin panels.

7. Think visually – I’ll leave you with this video below. It was made by a seventeen year old. I would love to be growing up now and be able to develop skills like this. People with the technical skills that are able to communicate effectively visually are going to be the winners in the multimedia world we’re moving into.

I Believe That We Will Win! – Belvedere College Basketball from Bold Move on Vimeo.

2 Responses to “So You Want A Career In PR?”  

  1. 1 Ben Cotton

    Hi Piaras,

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on #3, but I think on #2 you’re way, way off the mark.

    While I would never suggest having a PR degree is a prerequisite to work in the industry (teams made up of people from different backgrounds is a good thing), to write them off as a waste of time is foolhardy. To think that four years as a undergraduate or months as a post graduate can be replaced by a book is short sighted in the extreme.

    “My biggest hangup about PR courses in Ireland is that there simply isn’t enough entry level positions to cater for the amount of students coming through each year.” Based on this logic, people should not study to become a teacher, architect or lighting technician or have the audacity to seek work in any industry where jobs are few and far between.

    It’s disappointing to hear someone influential in the Irish PR scene places so little value on PR education. Ongoing education, training and development combined with on-the-job learning is how we’ll improve, and move from a craft to a profession. I would encourage you take a look at what UK CIPR President, Wadds has to say on this topic (#10):



  2. 2 Piaras

    Think things are different in the UK Ben in terms of the quality of undergraduate courses. The option to do a postgraduate qualification is there, but it by no means guarantees a job, which is worth bearing in mind given the costs of these courses. People are free to choose whatever qualification they please, but it would be good to see institutions limit the enrolment numbers to reflect what is available.

Leave a Reply

Piaras Kelly
Subscribe by Email
Recent Tweets

There are no recent tweets.

View more tweets