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Careers Centre

Public relations

About this sector

You can read information about role responsibilities, salary, working hours, what to expect, qualifications, skills, work experience, career prospects and related roles on the following Prospects Job Profiles:

 You might also see other job profiles of interest in the Marketing, advertising and PR profiles page (which gives links to the 18 profiles in the sector).

How to gain experience/internships

Employers will want evidence of your interest in PR and work experience is central to this. Get involved in activities at university such as: writing for student publications, raising funds and organising events for a charity, drama or sports group. The understanding and use of different forms of social media is essential, so get involved in producing your own blog, Twitter feeds, podcasts and join discussion groups on LinkedIn.

How to find a (graduate) job

There are many routes into PR. It is a highly competitive industry so drive, competency and a willingness to learn are important. Most opportunities for graduates are as Trainee Account Executives via PR consultancies’ training schemes.

Many of the top PR companies are owned by the big four agency holding companies: WPP Group, Omnicom, Interpublic Group and Publicis Group. The WPP Group recruit each October for their Marketing Fellowship scheme and it is possible to select a preference for PR & Public Affairs during the three-year scheme. The Fellowship is comprised of three one-year rotations through WPP companies, with each rotation chosen on the basis of the individual’s interests and the Group’s needs.

Other entry points include: trainee positions as Public Relations Officers, Publicity Assistants and Press Officers for in-house PR departments, or in the public sector as Assistant Information Officers. Others find entry by working as an Executive or Personal Assistant, or in a job that involves regular interface with PR firms (such as a Research Assistant to an MP or a Fundraiser for a charity). PR has always recruited people with a background in journalism, marketing and the media but, increasingly, now seeks individuals with an in-depth knowledge of other specialist areas (e.g. banking, law, healthcare professionals) who may want to enter PR as a second career.

To have a chance of success as a first or second job-seeker, you must be able to market yourself as really wanting to be in PR and knowing what the work involves. To help accomplish this:

Graduate Training Schemes

Graduate schemes with top PR companies often open in October and November, but dates can vary, so it's wise to check individual websites for current deadlines.

The following PR consultancies offer graduate training schemes:

Other PR opportunities

Although many PR consultancies do not run graduate training schemes, some may occasionally have PR vacancies and internships, eg

Job search websites

Applications, interviews and assessment centres

Be concise and to the point in a CV and covering letter. Make all your experiences relevant to PR - even something like bar work can show an interest in people, an understanding of your market to raise sales etc. Accuracy is essential - make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect.

Prior to an interview, research the company and be able to answer why you are applying to a particular organisation. Know who their clients are, recent campaigns, awards etc and have opinions on this.

Relevant Postgraduate Study - is it a requirement?

Although a postgraduate qualification is not essential to enter the PR industry, The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations Consultancy Association (PRCA) both deliver professional qualifications for those looking to kick-start their career or undergo training while on the job. These courses are also respected in the industry. You should, however, research any course thoroughly and make sure it represents good value in both your time and money.

According to a recent CIPR State of the Profession Survey, research suggests that professional qualifications / membership become increasingly important to public relations professionals looking to take up a new position as they become more senior.

Key UK resources

Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

General public relations careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines

International resources

GoinGlobal

The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.

USA

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.