Company Public Relations
did we hand ya'll a mess ... the worst recession in our lifetimes, wars,
foreclosures, college loans to pay back, plus your grandkids will probably
have to start chipping away at that trillion dollars everyone talks about.
Take heart, you're not the only ones. Our parents handed us a mess -- Cold
War, Vietnam, segregated schools, etc., etc., and their parents handed
them a mess -- Great Depression and WW II. Go back a few more years to the
class of 1909 and college grads were facing the Spanish Influenza or the
Anyone trying to land that first professional job right after college, has
never had it easy -- even during the dot-com boom.
I don't believe the enormous changes taking place in Public Relations
today, however, have any real impact on young careerists. There is growing
impact of the Internet and decreasing impact of local newspapers --
folding -- and the audience share of local TV news is shrinking.
Likewise, automated news release distribution and database services,
cut both ways for the newbie. Not having to stuff envelopes or run the
Gestener Machine, does not mean that fresh college grads get to develop
strategy for clients or write position papers and op-ed pieces.
Despite technology changes and the current groundswell of interest in
Social Media, young professionals in public relations get to start on
routine matters -- news releases, assist with events management and work
their way up. During the process, they get to sit in on strategy and new
business meetings and learn the ropes, all the while doing the routine
jobs that need to get done. Same as it ever was.
But if you are frustrated looking for that first job, consider these
suggestions to get you through.
1. Try to freelance for a weekly newspaper covering town meetings.
It will give you practice writing and thinking like a reporter --
essential PR skills. And you will learn a lesson in making a dull zoning
board meeting sound interesting. You will also learn how to find the issue
and see both sides of it. Plus you will get paid for writing something,
that first $25 check will be a big ego boost.
2. Cable companies all have studios and local news operations,
where you can volunteer and learn basic TV news production skills -- from
camera operation to floor manager to editing on Final Cut Pro.
3. Write one article for the school paper before you graduate -- at
least you will have a news clip to show prospective employers.
4. Join the US Army, US Air Force or US Navy. Talk to a local
recruiter about getting into Armed Forces Radio and Television (AFRTS) or
becoming part of the information operation of a military branch -- best
training you will ever get in PR, News and Life! And, despite all the
misconceptions about "having to take orders," you will get more
responsibility, respect for your position and have more authority a lot
faster than in any civilian job you can get right out of school -- whether
you are a young officer or enlisted person. (There are also reserve slots
available, so you can combine work with military experience and training.)
5. Volunteer for a social action or church group -- take the
organization on as you would a client and promote them like crazy.
6. Find an aunt, uncle or neighbor who owns a business and offer
free PR services for the summer. Then ask a local PR agency to give you
some guidance... most pros will share their knowledge. Even a tiny
business needs a news release now and then.
7. Go to graduate school in public relations or journalism. Go to a
university near where you want to work -- e.g. BU for Boston, NYU or
Columbia for New York. You will make old-school-tie contacts that will pay
off for years. Take Media Bistro courses to hone your skills in various
aspects of PR and writing -- www.mediabistro.com.
8. Go to law school -- and forget the whole thing!
9. Produce your first feature film or documentary -- pay for it
with your parents' credit cards and enter it into film festivals, hoping
for the best. If your film gets selected you will meet a lot of
interesting, creative and media savvy people.
10. Don't sweat it -- get the folks to buy you an SLR digital
camera and a really good flash for graduation, and travel on the cheap to
Asia, The Middle East or Europe. Keep sending your pictures out to
magazines and your local paper ... just get something published!
Pirozzolo is the founder of Pirozzolo
Company Public Relations,
a greater Boston PR agency serving clients in the US, UK, Canada,
Germany, Japan, Vietnam and China. Dick teaches Media Bistro's Public
Relations Basics in Boston and is an accredited member of PRSA and member
American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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