Guest Article By Melissa Mensah
Every year the job hunt always becomes one step tougher, particularly for graduates. After completing university almost 2 years ago, my journey so far has taught me a thing or two about getting into media and public relations. I was pretty much confident with my life planned perfectly after university, particularly because I was doing a lot of independent projects during university, before I graduated. The process hasn’t been smooth but nothing has been wasted. All loses have been lessons, consistency has produced results which have given me greater opportunities much sooner so I am grateful thus far. As much as the process can be very tedious and times can get desperate. Below are my 5 tips to help new PR graduates, I have been through what you are going through and I still use these tips on my journey. Hope it helps.
- Always think of yourself as a PR campaign
A CV is no longer enough. It has now become twice as important to package yourself properly on your social networks. The way you present yourself is very important. This doesn’t mean wearing a suit in all of your pictures but being consist with content you may share of yourself and others and being in line with topics. If it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. Make it a habit to document where you go socially, create a blog/vlog or consistent piece of content to share your views and just being you. The worse thing you can do as a graduate is going stale on your social. I am a victim of this and it has been worse in the past. Because I didn’t have ‘the job’ I felt like I was unable to validate myself in what I do. Well nobody says who you are apart from you! You can become an expert in your field through observation, experimenting and consistency. As well as you looking for the company, the company will look for you if you are always out there. During my time after university, I would find opportunities to work independently on projects to keep myself relevant in the industry. Where necessary I would partner with other platforms to build awareness and pitch in new hooks or ideas – This is PR and if you can do it for yourself you can do it for anyone.
- Network authentically with everyone
This is something you may get fed up of doing overtime, you won’t like everyone, but it will one of the most effective skills in life, not just the industry.
During my time in retail, talking to my customers would be one of the last things I would want to do in a job I didn’t want to work. My shifts started as early as 6am so I would see the same customers come in store at least twice a day. I was used to serving them, they were used to seeing me. It was only right to inquisitively find out more about them. As far as I was concerned they knew what I was doing for a part-time living so it’s worth finding out what they do. If they don’t work in PR or media directly, that doesn’t matter; the company should have that department – that’s your cue! Get the appropriate email on a piece of receipt paper. Most of the time they may get you to quote their name or put in a word for you purely based on the service you give them at your workplace and the way you carry yourself. It’s ATTITUDE over EXPERIENCE.
- Get to know the people as well as the agency
When it comes to looking for jobs and interviews, many of us are told to research the agency launched, how many clients they have etc. Instead find the people that work there and focus on connecting with one person. Aim to target yourself at smaller agencies or particular people in the industry, which you see as relatable and reachable via email. This is a great way to angle your cover letter if you have similar interests or if there is generally a link between the both of you in some way. Whatever the outcome, many practitioners in the industry are always happy to mentor and nurture young talent. Be authentic with what you’re looking for and interested to work with them if the opportunity comes up. Do not be desperate, find ways to be of value overtime. This has been a great way I have built my network both on and offline and they are still of great value to me.
- Partnerships and professionalism
We live in an age where we are surrounded by start-ups and new businesses – your friend probably has one! There is not a company or person that doesn’t need PR, so make suggestions to build trust and offer your services. In most cases if you are new to the game, you will most likely be doing it for free but treat it as if you were being paid. Find ways to add value or offer advice and treat every project as your own even if it is for a friend or family. Maintain professionalism at all times – stick to emails when keeping a log of progress and reference and when making inquiries. If you cant find one request it! Being professional is a great life skill, which creates great credibility and paid jobs in the long run.
- Take those L’s and create a win.
Try this: Raise your left hand and then your right hand. Form them both in the shape of an L so it looks like this |_ _|. Now form your hands to create a W.
My point of that activity is that I took my (|_) Loss and the lesson (_|), and created a win (W). In every loss, there’s a lesson to be learnt to prepare for a win. Be aware if you are not getting the job, be politely assertive for feedback and ask for advice to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Rejection builds character for the next opportunity. If you are unsure with what you need to improve on find a reachable mentor you can relate to. Many professionals in the industry are always open to help and assist the younger generation. Be clear what you need help with and in return find out how you can help them.
Feel free to email or follow me on twitter or better yet share any tips that have worked for you on your journey! All the best!