Beginning a Career in Public Relations

Monday, May 30, 2005

Why a Blog for Beginning a Career in Public Relations?

After serving for a year and a half as the Public Relations Student Society of America Liaison to the Houston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, I am beginning this blog to encourage interaction between public relations students both locally and nationally.

PRSA Houston supports the PRSSA Chapters at Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M University and the University of Houston.

Our Chapter also is supporting an effort to help students at Texas Southern University begin a PRSSA Chapter.

In my time as president of the University of Houston PRSSA Chapter (May 2001-02), I learned many valuable lessons about leadership, teamwork and the importance of networking.

Since graduating in 2002, I have experienced firsthand the ups and downs of the economy. I continue to learn every day, and offer this blog as a place to share these ideas and thoughts and encourage students to ask questions and share their thoughts, as well.

As many students have just graduated, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a checklist of items to consider when you are just beginning your career in public relations or a related field.

And if you're still looking for a job, I'll offer a few tips in that area, as well.

If you're new on the job, be sure to take advantage of any and all opportunities to learn as much as you can about the industry in which you work, the company or agency and its clients, as well as take time to read about a variety of other industries and hot topics.

That being said, here's a basis for a checklist when beginning a career in public relations:

1. Do you have a clear understanding of your job responsibilities and expectations?
2. Do you understand the chain of command and who needs to approve what work?
3. Do you have the right tools at your desk, such as the AP Style Guide, a dictionary and thesaurus?
4. Do you understand how to track your hours based on the accounts and tasks you are working on?
5. Which professional organizations does your company belong to and can you attend events regularly?
6. Do you understand the policies for time off, vacation and sick days?
7. Do you have a network of mentors and colleagues in place that you can depend on for quick questions and advice?
8. Is your company's media list updated and accurate?
9. Are you signed up to the right email and news subscriptions so you always know what is going on in the world, such as daily headlines from the New York Times and breaking news alerts from
10. Have you reviewed the PRSA Code of Ethics?

And if you haven't made it into that first job just yet, here are a few pointers to get you there and situated in a career in public relations.

1. Attend at least one networking function each month that relates to your desired area of employment, such as PRSA Houston, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Houston, American Marketing Association (AMA) Houston and the Houston Advertising Federation (HAF).
2. Adopt a mentor and maintain contact with him or her regularly. PRSA Houston offers a mentor program for students.
3. Send a follow-up e-mail and personalized note within two hours of meeting someone at an event. Build your own brand!
4. Ask for feedback on your résumé and cover letters before submitting them.
5. Ask your mentors and colleagues to help you prepare for interviews by participating in mock interviews.

If you'd like to add to the list, or would like to ask a question or comment on any of the above points about beginning a career in public relations, please contribute now!