Careers in communications and public relations can be extremely rewarding if you have the right skills.
For graduates just making their way into a job market, a degree and some theoretical knowledge will certainly help. However, communications practitioners must also network with PR specialists in order to find the best jobs, mentors and employers. Internships, group projects and career events are great ways to get a feel for the industry, and help with that all-important networking.
Which job is right for you? Take a look at this breakdown of some of the basic positions and decide which is the best fit.
Where to start
Good news: There are lots of options to choose from.
You could work an agency, where you promote different clients. You could also become a self-employed freelancer and take full control of what clients you take on. Alternatively, you could choose to work for a government agency (in environment or education, for example), or a private company.
For an entry-level position, employers don’t necessarily expect applicants to have a lot of experience, especially if it is your first job in the field. More importantly, they are looking for enthusiasm for the job, dedication and strong communication skills.
Don’t expect to be thrown into the deep-end on your first day. At the beginning, you’re likely to do a lot of administrative work and assist more experienced communications and PR officers. You might start with an assistant post, and with more and more experience, progress to a senior position of communications officer and manager.
Broadly speaking, you will be responsible for creating and maintaining a positive image of the company you work for. This entails ensuring effective communication between all levels of organization, preparing promotional materials for traditional and electronic means of communication, and closely working with the marketing department to help carry out the marketing strategy. Employers usually expect that the candidate for this post will have strong understanding of their business and willingness to contribute to a team.
Crises can bring unwanted attention and have major economic consequences. If you thrive in stressful situations and you are driven to succeed, this could be the right place for you. It is however, one of the most high-pressure roles in communications, because if the crisis is handled badly, all eyes are on you. If you manage it well, you will be worth much more as an employee in the job market.
Social media manager
Social media is becoming a necessary means of communication in corporate setting and companies often seek to employ a person dedicated to this particular post. For this job, you should have a natural interest in new technologies and be willing to sometimes extend your work hours into nights and weekends. The good news is that, if you enjoy using social media, you will essentially do what you love every day, and you will be paid for it.
Public relations specialist
Your goal here is to create and maintain a positive image of your organization amongst your customers. You’ll design and organize promotional campaigns, press conferences and coordinate networking events. If you are creative, have exceptional interpersonal skills and a can-do attitude, you’ll excel in this arena.
If you are thinking about becoming a communications and PR specialist, whatever your specialty might be, corporate communication and PR are now an essential part of almost every business. With a news cycle that never ends, and media that’s developing and adapting, you’ll be able to take your career anywhere.
Kelly Smith is a dedicated tutor and writer. Currently, she develops her passion at Career FAQs, a provider of career and educational resources in Australia.