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We asked our PRGN (Public Relations Global Network) partners from around the world to share some advice for PR graduates. Here’s what they had to say:
Jorge Martinez, The Conroy Martinez Group, Miami
The three things that are most important to us when we hire an entry level person:
1. Experience – we like to see some agency or in-house experience. The more the better.
2. Writing – we ask for samples and give them a writing test. This has become a good barometer for us.
3. Attitude – while this is hard to measure in an interview, you do get a “feeling” during the interview if this person will fit your culture.
Anne Buchanan, Buchanan PR, Philadelphia
The three things I look for: 1.) Writing ability. Poor or weak writing is a non-starter for us. 2.) Prior experience in the form of one or more solid internships. The more exposure you’ve already had to PR firm, the less steep the learning curve is for us and you. 3.) Multi-media skills. If I have two outstanding writers with good internship experience, the nod will probably go to the one who has photography / video / podcasting / social media / digital skills on top of the traditional PR skills.
Scott Hanson, HMA Public Relations, Phoenix
I always tell them they should be engaged. If they want to work for you, then they should already be following your social media platforms, commenting on them and participating in the process. I also tell them about how to get their foot in the door. One way is to get involved with something they are passionate about. For example, if it is animals, then volunteer at the Humane Society and get on their PR committee. This may expose them to those already in the real world who may hear of jobs, have jobs or otherwise be helpful in their pursuit of a job. An understanding and knowledge of current events and writing ability are also essential.
David Landis, Landis Communications, San Francisco
First and foremost: perfect your writing. Tweet speak is not English. Second, gain experience: do an internship somewhere so you learn the ropes and how business works. Third, always say yes to any opportunity and demonstrate you are a team player with a positive attitude. That will take you far.
Blake Lewis, Three Box Strategic Communications, Dallas
Hard to weigh-in after several great points from previous commentators. Perhaps a less tangible trait… yet, equally important, in my opinion… is critical thinking. WHY would a communications situation be occurring, WHY would one action/reaction/response potentially be better (or worse) than another? We see waaaay too much knee-jerk actions/reactions in our profession that are based on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ rote answer, rather than taking into account the considerations of the specific situation and its implications.
Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Los Angeles
1) Curiosity and an “I’ll do it” spirit.
2) Strong basic PR skills including writing
3) Presentation/workplace respect (showing up on time, dressing appropriately, etc.)
Mark Hazlin, Xenophon Strategies, Washington DC
Smart, Personable and Proactive. We need people who can write, speak, and think intelligently. I also give an edge to candidates who can demonstrate a basic ability to do web and graphic design and/or video, to present ideas visually.
Robert Bauer, Asoluto, Vienna, Austria
(1) Precision – don’t be stingy with details. They still matter. (2) Stringency – what you say and what you elaborate must follow a reasonable path, no matter how surprising and creative your words and thoughts might be. (3) Ability to listen – really listen – and ability to spend time on quietly rethinking and reflecting on what you read, hear, and experience.
Boh-Tiong Yap, Mileage Communications, Singapore
1. Knowledge of current affairs. Keep abreast of developments in your community, city, country and the world.
2. Have a positive work attitude. Go the extra mile. 3 Observe ethical standards always.
Abbie Fink, HMA Public Relations, Phoenix
The suggestions above are right on target. Let me offer a couple thoughts on what do to once you do have the interview.
Do your homework — find out what you can about the employer.
Have a portfolio of your work — and if it comes from classwork or an internship that’s fine, just be able to tell me your involvement in the project and what was successful, what you learned from it, etc. “I have 2000 fans on Instagram” is not a job skill. Understand the “why” of social/digital media.
Show up to the interview ready to do the job — have a pen/notebook. Asking to borrow one from me is not going to help you get the job. And don’t forget what happens after the interview — be sure to send a thank you note. I don’t mind if it is sent via email, but a handwritten note in the mail definitely makes an impression.
Have any advice for PR graduates to add to this list?