Browsing Category

Getting Started

Getting Started, Public Relations,

What if You Don’t Have a PR Degree?


I have had more than one request from young professionals or soon-to-be graduates who do not have or will not get a PR degree and are interested in working in PR in some capacity. So do you have to have a degree in PR to do this work? Nope. In fact, I’d venture a guess that the clear majority of folks working in PR don’t have PR degrees. A career in PR is often the result of a circuitous path.

Disclaimer: I have a PR degree. My students in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon will all have PR degrees. Having a PR degree gives you the language of the industry and a unique approach to the work and our program at the UofO is very focused on real world activities and training strategic, creative thinkers. With that said…

What can you do to move into public relations or start your career there, when your degree says something like English Literature or Sociology or International Studies? Basically, get experience.

Some tips:

  • Volunteer: Can you volunteer a few hours a week at a local nonprofit? Participate as a PR volunteer writing newsletter articles, or pitching the media human interest stories about your organization. Chances are, that organization would love to have some free help and you can get some great experience. If you don’t know much about PR, find an organization that has someone who can mentor you.
  • Read, read, read: Many many smart PR people are blogging, tweeting and putting out info every day that you can learn from. Find a few you like and soak up all you can. If you’re not sure where to start, on the right navigation of this blog are some of my favorites.

    Beyond blogs, and PR focused material, it’s also important to be an avid consumer of media, generally, and to know what’s going on in the world.

  • Network: Participate in PRSA or IABC events in your local community. Get to know the PR folks. PR is a pretty small world and you’ll find your contacts will carry you far.
  • Update your skills: If you feel like you’re lacking the technical skills necessary for that first internship or job, find a way to get some practice. Take a skills course at your university or community college that focuses on PR, for example. Or ask a local PR prof what book they typically use in their courses or books they’d recommend. Generally, we’re pretty nice and are happy to help someone who is enthusiastic about what we do.
  • Intern: Seek out more formal internships, either in-house or with an agency. Depending on your market, you may be competing with PR grads (in Portland, Ore. for example), but if you’ve prepared yourself, you will be able to hold your own and show you deserve a chance.

If you’ve “fallen into” PR and have more tips… or if you’re working in PR and see the path that those around you have taken, please share!

Pencil and Paper
Getting Started, Social Media, Tips,

OMG What Do I Blog About?

I had a discussion last week with a few of the students who were in the summer PR Writing class. We talked about what they learned over the summer and what they could expect in Advanced PR Writing and other courses. One of questions they had was: what do I blog about??

You’ll get lots of ideas from your feed reader. Listening is a big part of blogging. But… here are some more ideas off the top of my head:

  1. Take the day’s lecture from a favorite class and post a reaction to it or an opinion about it.
  2. PR advice for topics in the news: read the paper (you’re doing that anyway, right?) and post some advice for organizations making headlines in your community.
  3. Advice for junior students: share your best advice for succeeding in a course.
  4. Most surprising thing you’ve learned today
  5. Review a book.
  6. Profile a blog that you enjoy. Include favorite posts and what you’ve learned.
  7. Profile a blogger – many bloggers will answer interview questions via email. Ask things that students of public relations will be interested in. (bonus: networking!)
  8. Write about a new cool Web 2.0 gadget and it’s implications on PR. You can find a huge list at Go2Web2.0. Just pick one and review.
  9. Review a podcast. Find the PR podcasts here.
  10. Talk about the internship/job search process regardless of where you are in it. What are you doing to prepare for your next step.
  11. Interview a recent grad who landed a job and learn about the process they went through. (bonus: networking!)
  12. Profile a PR agency.
  13. Tips you learned from volunteering/interning.
  14. Talk about the results of your research or term paper. Summarize what you learned and link to the full paper.
  15. Relate a non-PR class to what you’re learning in PR.
  16. Create “best of” lists with links to other resources: Best Posts of the Week, Best Writing Tips, Best Personal Branding Advice.
  17. How have you changed (or not) your Facebook presence and why?
  18. Wish list of PR or social media books that you’d like to read.
  19. Break down a PR plan and explain the parts in your own words. Find some examples to illustrate!
  20. Discuss why you like or don’t like a particular campaign or brand.
  21. What do you find surprising about public relations?
  22. Why I should get a Google phone. (Just making sure you’re paying attention)
Career, Getting Started,

Work is Hard: Tips for your First Job


Recent grads are eagerly anticipating the first day on the job. And my students are no exception.

I want to offer a few first-days-on-the-job tips. I’ll preface this by saying that your first job will not make or break you. You can take a risk, follow your heart (or your wallet) and you’ll be just fine.

So, say you’ve landed that first great job. You’re eager to make a good impression, to make your mark on the industry and to move up the agency or corporate ladder. But what can you expect?

Your education is only the beginning.
I see three parts to this piece of advice – the logistics of work, the tasks and the personalities.

Education doesn’t prepare you for a 8 – 5 schedule. And believe it or not, it’s hard. It’s hard to be at work by 8 am and stay active and engaged for 8 hours. It’s hard and it will take some time to adjust. And don’t let work consume you. Easier said that done that first six months or that first year – but remember to exercise, to spend time with family and friends and to have some fun. It’s called work-life balance.

ZenHabits has lots of great tips for all these things. Here’s a nice post about being more productive.

My piece of advice for learning office personalities and politics is – stay out. Stay out for a year if you can. You don’t want to “side” with the wrong person or issue because you don’t know any better. Just stay out. And don’t gossip. You probably won’t get fired. But you might damage your relationship with your employer. Better to stay out.

Find a mentor.
Look around. Who in your office is doing good work and is well-liked and well-respected? Tell them. And ask if you can go out to coffee. A mentor relationship doesn’t have to be a formal one. But having a senior person to go to with questions or of whom you can ask advice is invaluable.

I met my mentor through a volunteer project with a nonprofit organization and, while we don’t work together often, or even see each other more than once every couple of months, I know I can always ask her advice. Not only do I know I can ask. I know she’ll be honest with me and give me good feedback.

Seek challenges.
You come to the table with outstanding professional skills and a background to be able handle much of what’s thrown your way. Seek out challenging assignments. Look at the basic assignments you’re given and figure out how to do it better or faster. Make recommendations or suggestions for programs that will add value for your organization or your client.

By seeking challenges, accepting more responsibility and making yourself more visible in your organization, you’re likely to zip up the proverbial “ladder” in no time.

For my readers who are new professionals – what would you add?

Keep networking.

Getting Started, Professional Advice,

Tips for Starting Out

1 comment

From Media Orchard (one of mt favorite blogs): 17 Tips for Those Just Starting Out in Business.

I would like to highlight #13

13. Accept responsibility when things go wrong. Be ready to say that something is your fault and apologize for your error. Do so even if you have to accept responsibility for something that is technically someone else’s error. You’ll earn respect.

I would add to this particular tip – be gracious. Accept responsibility graciously and without excuse, without blame. And you can try this tact even before you go out into the business world. Leave your sense of entitlement that you deserve an A at the door and earn it. As the Media Orchard tip says, you’ll earn respect.

Related Posts with Thumbnails