Tag Archives: interviews

Putting the “relations” in public relations job searching

by Hope Peterson

I can think of few things more nerve-racking than entering the real world. It’s frightening to think of a place without the cushion of our parents’ security blanket, familiar faces and the excuse, “I’m only young once.”

However, entering that place should be a little less intimidating for PR students like us. The scary black hole of the real world should seem a little less unsettling.

Now, it’s a given that grades are important, but the key to obtaining the interview and holding the job is delivering greatness in person. You can’t get that from a transcript.

PR teaches communication, which places its students ahead of their competition. Through effective communication practices, PR students are familiar with the “how-to’s” of networking and interviewing.

First, the more people you know, the easier it is to do your job as a PR professional. Logically, networking before and after obtaining an interview is crucial.

This is not to say that “sucking up” is beneficial, because often that can lead to more name calling than job offers. But rather, it’s the art of knowing how to establish connections that will get you the phone call for an interview.

An article on the PRSSA website defines networking as “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

There are two types of networking: “social and real world.”

PR professional Derek Devries said on his blog that is it important to create social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to establish your online identity the way you wish to be perceived. Devries said, “In your spare time you need to be blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, creating, and sharing content with the goal of creating a big footprint for people to find when they’re searching the web.”

As Devries put it, “just do something” to force yourself to be seen by others.

Next, real world networking includes most social interactions dealt with in every day life. Everyone you meet is important; every party you attend, after-class talk with your teacher, dinner with your friends’ parents or lunch with your sorority adviser could lead to something more.

Devries advised in his blog to “take these opportunities: they can be the difference between starting a new career OR moving back home with mom & dad when you graduate.”

But it takes a little more than a smile and a “how are you?” to establish a connection. You need to separate yourself from the crowd. Devries said that PR students are ahead because they never enter “blindly.” He said to always be prepared for social situations with a professional and online presence, business cards, notes and information for small talk.

After ensuring plenty of successful connections, the interview is next.

It should go without saying that PR students should be able to communicate and carry on conversations; putting the relations in public relations comes with the degree, right?

An article on PR Daily advises students who are interviewing to do their homework about the company, practice common manners, maintain appropriate work-related conversation and follow up without stalking.

Basically the tips can be summed up through one over-arching statement — learn how to connect with people to establish a relationship.

Graduating with a PR degree might just make that jump into that real work a little less scary. PR doesn’t just tell us to make an impression, but teaches us how. Effective communication is key.

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The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I am excited and ready to begin my career in public relations. However, I have several uncertainties and questions about my future field. The most prevalent and recurring of these uncertainties is when and how to ‘toot my own horn.’

Someone once told me, “If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will.” I have found this to be great advice and mostly true; however, my attempt to understand the boundaries and to practice the art of properly tooting my own horn has come to no avail.

Personally, I get uncomfortable when talking about my talents and accomplishments. Not only do I not want to come off as bragging, but I also do not want to be labeled as overconfident or arrogant. After all, humility is a respected virtue.

In hindsight of my college education, I never actually learned how to sell myself as a talented professional with ease and sincerity. This leads me to ask: since most people rarely acquire the skills to promote and talk about themselves in a graceful and tactful manner, are we supposed to rely on others to sing praises on our behalf? Or if we are to take matters into our own hands, where is the line drawn between appropriate self-promotion and bragging at its finest?

This predicament also pertains to big business in PR. Every day in our field, something significant happens that others should know about: a firm creates an outstanding campaign, lands a new client, demonstrates expertise on an important topic, provides noteworthy service to existing clients or wins an award. Yet more often than not, these major events go unnoticed by the people to whom it should matter the most.

How do we, personally and professionally, achieve value through self-promotion, without making it too much of a good thing? Or how do we know that through our humility, we’re not missing out on a golden opportunity to sell ourselves and our companies?

It’s all about balance.

Just as we’re not going to walk into an interview and declare how wonderful and talented we are, we know that positive regard and appraisal for our work isn’t going to just happen on its own.

So my take on this dilemma is to take everything in stride. We don’t need to be in a constant state of tug-of-war between practicing modesty and publicizing accomplishments. We should minimize the boasting and maximize the value of what we’re saying. A company should space out the number of press releases it distributes and announcements it makes, if only for the sake of avoiding information overload.

Tooting our own horns should be properly planned. We shouldn’t just let it occur by happenstance. It is important that we learn how to reconcile our efforts to be humble with the need to promote our talents. We should take advantage of our opportunities and use them as leverage for successful, unadorned self-promotion.

by Madeline Reeves

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