First of all it is important to establish what your expectations of public relations are. Despite popular media representations of the industry, PR isn't all glamour and long, boozy lunches – it can involve a lot of hard work and long hours. That's not to say there aren't perks to the job of course! Essentially, public relations can offer an incredibly varied and challenging career, encompassing many different activities. As with many jobs, the proof is in the pudding and you will only find out if you are suited to PR through experience in the field.
Some questions to ask yourself when considering PR as a career…
Do I have an interest in what's going on around me? PR practitioners need to be aware of current trends and issues. Keeping up to date with the world around you is vital when advising clients or brainstorming campaign ideas. See Be news aware below.
Do I have good communication skills? PR practitioners must be confident talking to a wide range of people – for example, your role may involve presenting to clients, dealing with journalists and meeting with groups of people important to your organisation or client. You also need to have excellent writing skills as you could be producing press releases, annual reports, articles and newsletters.
There are certain essential qualities and skills that you will need to get ahead in PR. These include:
• Good verbal and written communication skills
• An ability to multi task and manage your time effectively
• A good level of organisation and planning
• An interest in all forms of media
Do I cope well under pressure? PR roles can be incredibly varied so you will need to be able to organise your workload in order to meet strict deadlines. The ability to multi task is essential, and a flexible attitude important. If you are looking for a 9-5 job, then PR is probably not for you – your position may involve early starts, late finishes or time at the weekend.
According to a survey undertaken by Cranfield School of Management and the CIPR, the following skills and qualities are important if you are considering working in public relations:
• analyse management needs
• counsel management
• identify causes of problems, analyse future trends and predict their consequences
• research into public opinion, attitudes and expectations and advise on necessary action
• plan, organise and co-ordinate tasks
• monitor and follow up
• set goals and objectives
• motivate and influence others
• communicate effectively with individuals and groups in meetings and through presentations
• write and edit press releases and reports
• work effectively with journalists
• identify major social issues affecting organisations and to resolve conflict work with others
• establish financial controls