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How to Start Your Career in Public Relations?


CareerWiseAs the board exam results are being announced, students are ready to transition from schools to colleges. The first step in this transition is to make a career choice. To help you in selecting the right professional path for you, every week we explore new professional avenues for you. Bring a unique career and a roadmap that can help you take up a job in that profession. If you have any other queries or have a course or career you want us to explore, write to us on Twitter at @News18dotcom.

This week let’s explore a career in public relations

The last few years have seen a resurgence of public relations as a career and the need for sharp PR consultants. Brands have realized that it’s earned media – public relations, which can make the difference now, and safeguard it for the future.

Brands have also realized that Gen Z is the centerpiece of smart PR strategies – because they are the consumers and decision-makers of tomorrow, and because of their inherent ability to perceive and analyze the world around them differently. This is also the reason why Gen Zs can find a career in PR very rewarding. It gives them an opportunity to tackle unique communications challenges, and guide brands to act responsibly to work on issues that advocate equality and sustainability.

So, if you are a Gen Z, looking for your first job in Public Relations, here is what you can do to make sure you start off strongly:

1. Pursue a professional course

This is the easiest and most reliable way to jumpstart your career in PR. Look for top institutes of public relations and you will find plenty that offers specific courses in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. The best part about public relations is that it accepts graduates from any discipline, whether political science, mathematics, or any other educational background.

After completing your undergraduate or postgraduate studies, you can enroll for postgraduate programmes in public relations and corporate communications. There are some institutes which combine PR with other allied fields like advertising or mass communications. Deprioritize those, since the domain of PR is increasingly complex and unique, and prioritize specialized courses in PR.

2. Score PR Internships

PR internships, especially those in some of India’s largest PR firms, will give you an opportunity to observe the process by which PR consultancies understand their clients’ needs and deliver on them through PR campaigns.

You will also get a chance to learn some fundamental skills that PR professionals must learn. Keep in mind though, most PR internships are only as valuable as you make them. So, try to take on as many responsibilities as you can, focus on delivering results quickly and network – meet people within the firm where you intern.

3. Write. Write. Write.

Content is the cornerstone of public relations. Whether it’s a press release that you write, or a social media post, or a campaign tagline, you are telling a story. More often than not that story is first told as a piece of writing. So practice writing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be writing related to public relations, as long as you write regularly, with the focus of improving your writing styles.

One way to ensure continuous improvement in writing is to publish your writing online, in the form of your personal blogs or LinkedIn articles. The more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you will become in creating content for various platforms and applications.

4. Read. Read & then read some more

PR professionals are required to constantly be aware of the latest happenings in the industry that they counsel. If there is a threat to a brand’s reputation looming somewhere in the form of a disgruntled employee or an upset customer, you should be the first to know. If there is an opportunity for the brand you counsel to go viral, you must be able to spot it. And that comes from reading – books and articles that enhance your knowledge of the industry that you are in or the PR profession in general, to newspapers that will keep you updated on what is happening around you – this suggestion refers to all kinds of reading.

5. Understand Influence

One of the biggest virtues of being digital natives is that it has empowered all of us to be influencers in our own ways. Whether we have a thousand followers on Instagram or we have a YouTube channel watched by many, we have the ability to influence people. It is important to understand how influence works and how it propagates.

PR professionals are often responsible for recognising, identifying, and convincing influential entities to advocate for a cause or a brand. These entities can come in the form of individual influencers, thought leaders or organisations that do pioneering work in a field.

The bottom line is to understand how to convince them to work with you, and to wield their influence in a smart way. The book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is one of my all-time top recommendations for communications students at our institute and to PR Consultants in general. Read this to understand how influence works.

Furthermore, if you want to kickstart your career in Public Relations in India (and continue to thrive therein), do not hesitate to reach out to senior PR professionals for advice and opportunities. The Indian PR community is not only small and closely knit but also comprises of some incredibly helpful professionals. Look them up on LinkedIn and seek out help if you need and they will help.

— The author is Hemant Gaule, Dean, School of Communications and Reputation (SCoRe).

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