Wednesday, February 10, 2010

PR students working for a PR agency?

I'm Jasmine and I'm a new student intern for D.Williams PR & Event Management Group. I'll be posting info once a month for students who are interested in the field of public relations.

Should PR students work for a PR agency?
If you're a PR student, how are you supposed to know you're a "natural" for a PR agency, and is there a flashing red light that will warn you away if you're not suited?
If you're a student in a PR program, or you're already working and considering your options, I hope you find this advice helpful.

1.Agencies are less glamorous than you've heard.

Don't go into PR if you think you're going to meet "famous and important people".

Bad idea. In one branch of PR - entertainment PR - you may someday meet Somebody Famous (or at least pass them backstage). Most of the time you will meet many people you never heard of. In public relations you will probably meet other people who are interesting, boring, smart, dumb, and beautiful well known in their fields, or obscure. You will not meet Al Pacino, Bill Clinton or the Jonas Brothers.

if you go into that field your job, for a number of years at least, will be making sure that the microphones work and that the hot dogs arrive on time. Somebody once said that the Mafia was like Hollywood: thousands of obscure little guys starving to death and waiting for their big chance, and a few big people making a mint.

2.Agencies are businesses. They need people who think like business people.

you'll be expected to know how to write a good news release. The agency will expect you to write it faster and get it right faster, because it's selling your time against a fixed budget and if it takes you too long, the agency loses money.

Not that agency people are starved or never enjoy any benefits…but the majority of PR agencies are small to medium-sized companies at best. There's no corporate sugar daddy or taxpayer to supply them.

If you think PR is where people will leave you alone while you spend months designing a logo or creating a cool website, you don't want a job at an agency. The pace is faster and there's far more need for every action to make business sense.

3.In public relations there are three skill sets. Only at an agency will you need all of them.

The first is what I'll call "good PR tools". The ability to write clearly and compellingly. (Good spelling, good English, powerful composition). A burning desire to understand the bewilderingly complex world of politics, business and the media. A good grounding in history and the social sciences. A second language would be nice.

Second, "people skills."

Third, "business skills."

4.So who should try for a job at a PR agency, anyway?

You should consider a PR agency (and any good agency hiring person will consider you) if you can answer "yes" to at least six of the following eight questions:

Do you not get bored easily?
Do you have the kind of sense of humor that will help you out of bitter situations?
Can you always see at least two sides to every question - and could you convincingly argue either one of them if you had to?
Do you want to work (at least some of the time) on the most truly fascinating events and situations that confront organizations - restructurings, corporate makeovers, new products and services, maddeningly complex and controversial issues, corporate crises?
Are you a creative, problem-solving kind of person?
Are you good at sizing up people and situations quickly?
Are you self-confident, unafraid of authority, willing and able to speak and write convincingly?
Do you have a passionate need to know why?

John J. Barr

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