Brand You

You would be surprised at how little there is on the Internet on the topic of getting a job in PR. Since getting a job is pretty high on the list of priorities for all PR students, I assumed I would be able to find a lot more information — maybe even a checklist — on how to go about this process. I finally found a blog in which the author outlines several great tips on the PR-job search:

http://blogcampaigning.com/2007/12/landing-your-first-public-relations-job/

His third point caught my eye, and I was thrilled as I was able to answer all the questions about personal goals and what differentiates me from other applicants.

It seems that there is more pressure than ever for students and professionals to differentiate themselves from their peers. Everyone applying for a PR job will have a college degree, so who you are and what you’ve done makes you special. What makes you more qualified than the next PR major for (fill in your dream job)? How can (insert your dream employer) help you achieve your lifelong goals? What is the best use for your time now?

Gear up, friends, it’s time to put all those PR skills to work building the brand You.

I spent this summer doing just that. Specifically, I spent the summer in Russia, striking up conversation with anyone who would talk – Russian waitresses, American consular officers, German millionaires, Azerbaijani restaurant owners… I really mean anyone who would talk – and reading the great literature of many cultures.

Here is a little of what I learned about creating brand You from my experiences this summer:

Go Places
Russia is a little out there, I understand, so pick a place that interests you enough to make you seek out the lessons it has to offer. With a global worldview, you as a PR major will be much more competent when it comes to dealing with foreign media, partners and even employers.

This summer I went to a mass grave where over 400,000 unknown citizens of St. Petersburg killed by Nazi forces were buried during the Siege of Leningrad, and it made me understand Russian strength and pride. I saw how people lived, and I understood how hard it will be for Russia to become a truly capitalist nation.

Don’t sit in your room. You never know if that 2,000th picture is the one you will need for a blog post in the fall.

Eat everything. Anywhere you go, food teaches lessons about culture and the economy.

Forget your preconceived ideas. What you see in the media is not always true, and foreign opinions often go unrepresented.

Meet People
This summer, a German in a coffee shop inspired me to work harder on my Russian vocabulary, an Armenian waiter showed me how to bridge the gap between foreign cultures, and a former member of the KGB taught me to understand the intricacies of the relationship between government and economics. Relationships open the world to you, and PR students and practitioners especially understand the value of these connections.

Coffee houses are a great way to meet people. If people are sitting in a coffee house, they have time to kill and probably don’t mind talking. My German friend was ready to pounce on anyone who would practice English with him (in Russia. Go figure).

Speak the native language; people appreciate it. As invaluable as a second language is anywhere, an added advantage is that people are nicer when they understand you.

Listen to what everyone has to say; eavesdrop, if you have to. The pulse of a country is hidden in what its citizens are talking about, whether you are in the United States or the United Arab Emirates.

Read Books
I know as students it is hard enough to find time to read a syllabus, much less a novel or political commentary, but there is something about the written word (all of your PR professors are smiling and nodding right now) that has the power to change perceptions and sometimes even people.

Pick books on topics you like, otherwise you won’t make the time to read them.

Pick books that will stretch you to think differently and understand more fully. If you want something to change you, it doesn’t make any sense to have it align perfectly with what you already think.

So embrace your crazy obsessions. Let yours take you mountain biking through the Rockies this summer or to a wildlife reservation in Canada over Spring Break. These experiences will shape who you are and where you will fit at your future job.

As PR students, we should know that a media release – no matter how colorfully written – will never be noticed if the product is the same as any other. Be you and, in doing so, you will build brand You: a passionate and competent PR job applicant.

Jessica A.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Brand You

  1. Jacob Summers

    Very good, Jessica. I think the idea of getting outside one’s comfort zone is often given lip service as being wonderful, but is rarely every realized in its true potential – both in terms of really trying and in terms of travel.

  2. Parker

    Thanks for linking to us, Jessica.
    The fact that you and your friends are already starting a blog and thinking about the online space shows that you are ahead of the game when it comes to Public Relations.

    The post you linked to was written by my colleague Espen, but I also wrote a similiar post a few months ago:
    http://blogcampaigning.com/2008/01/how-to-get-your-start-in-pr/

    You make a great point about going places and meeting people – I’d say that 90% of what got me where I am is the travel I have done and the fact that I have gone out of my way to meet people in real life, rather than through social media and blogs.

    Good luck to you guys!

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