What kind of college graduate has the skills to succeed in public relations? For many young graduates, PR represents an exciting career opportunity. It’s a chance to work in a fast-paced and vibrant industry with a selection of incredible clients from around the world. Unfortunately, not every graduate is well-suited to a career in communications.
When it comes to sorting through the sea of recent college graduates that entered the job market this year, PR companies have their work cut out for them in selecting the right hires. While all PR candidates should have passion, dedication, and a basic knowledge of the modern communication practices businesses are using today, there’s more to think about too.
Hands-On Experience Makes a Difference
While many PR firms are looking for graduates with a high level of education in an area like public relations, creative arts, advertising, and journalism – there’s more to this kind of career than the right degree. The right major can take a good candidate a long way, but many agencies will also be on the lookout for individuals who show their dedication by getting experience in the field through an apprenticeship or voluntary position.
Aside from a general knowledge of the communication landscape – it also helps for PR candidates to have experience pitching ideas. Many modern graduates forget how important it is to have good writing and presentation skills in a PR environment. After all – before an agency implements a PR strategy they need to make sure that it’s the right move for the client.
In order for an agent to successfully implement his or her ideas – they first need to pitch it to both the customer and the rest of the team. While being a talented writer with good presentation skills may seem like an obvious requirement, many firms struggle to find college students who have spent enough time honing their writing skills.
Other Valuable Skills a PR Candidate Needs
Aside from the ability to communicate well in a team environment a graduate interested in moving into the world of PR should also be familiar with social media. Many of today’s companies use social media as their first defense in a fast-paced digital world. Social media practices are growing increasingly important for those who want to work with local and global companies on an integrated communications and marketing strategy.
Other valuable skills that PR companies look for include the ability to speak confidently in public, tell stories on the behalf of a brand and think critically about projects. Technical competency is also a valuable asset in the digital world. In terms of attitude, PR agents need to be strategic, motivated, and client-centric. In a world where customer experience comes first – many agencies will be looking for graduates that can demonstrate their focused, and assertive nature.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to the perfect candidate for a PR and communications job – it’s worth noting that today’s candidates need more than just the right qualifications to make a lasting impact on a potential employer.
Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR