6 Tips For Your First PR Job

A college education in public relations is a fantastic resource, but it can’t cover everything. Here are a few tips as you begin your journey into public relations.

Pitching is everything
If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent time and effort perfecting your content creation and journalism skills. While these can make you a great asset to a team, keep in mind that the house of media relations is built upon a foundation of pitching. Identifying, writing, targeting and sending pitches are often core functions of entry-level PR jobs. Put time into developing your pitching skills— they’re often the clearest way to contribute value to your team. There are great books on the topic — I’m enjoying Ed Zitron’s “This is How You Pitch” right now.

Learn about your clients
In order to identify pitching angles, you need to understand your clients. I like to read anything I can get my hands on about the companies I work with, as this can allow me to see pitching ideas that haven’t occurred to anyone else.

Identify and track competitors
One of the most important nuances to learn about your clients is their competition. This gives you a frame of reference for the type of coverage you can seek and can alert you to journalists who might be interested in news from your clients.

Don’t be boring
Since your clients spend every day embedded deep in their verticals, they depend on you to help convey their ideas to people who may not live in their world. This means it’s crucial to find news within your clients’ larger stories. Journalists are incredibly busy and receive hundreds of emails each day. You’ll want to find a good story angle that is relevant to the writer you’re pitching and articulate your ideas clearly and succinctly.

Google News is your friend
Don’t underestimate Google News just because it’s available to everybody. Advanced monitoring and tracking tools can be great for media relations, but Google News is a great way to get a glimpse of trending topics and coverage based on simple search terms. It’s a great starting point for learning and establishing context.

Set up Google Alerts
When you’re working with clients, it’s important to keep tabs on their mentions and what’s happening in their industry. Google Alerts sends you emails when new items that match your specified keywords are added to Google’s massive index. Setting alerts for your clients’ names or keywords related to that client can help you stay informed. It’s also a good idea to set one up for your name.

Mike IncavoMike Incavo is an account manager and content creator at Houston cybersecurity firm Zintel PR. He attended Baylor University and is a member of the Houston PRSA chapter. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

March 2015 #NPPRSA Twitter Chat Highlights: Preparing for a Crisis

Twitter Chat 3-18 SquareWe’d like to thank everyone who participated in the March #NPPRSA Twitter chat as we discussed crisis communications–how to prepare and how to react.  We would especially like to thank Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management.

Join us again on April 15 for our next #NPPRSA chat and stay up-to-date with PRSA New Professionals on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Review highlights of the chat below. What did you learn from the March chat? How can you prepare for your brand’s vulnerabilities before a crisis? What can you do to minimize damage once a crisis hits?


You can receive FREE New Professionals Section membership for PRSA throughout March!

Lauren Headshot 1.3MBLauren Rosenbaum is the PRSA New Professionals Social Media Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Soversity, a public relations and digital marketing company. You can connect with her on Google+LinkedIn or Twitter.

Creative Tech Skills You’ll Need for Entry-Level Jobs

Landing your dream job or even an entry level position in public relations requires more than being a crafty wordsmith, talented strategist and a social media wiz.


While most of us already have blogs and understand how to use WordPress, most job postings I see now list a slew of additional visual storytelling skills that those of us new to the profession have to at least have some experience with before being called in for an interview.

Additional skills to consider developing:

  • Adobe publishing including InDesign, Photoshop and other software to create digital documents and iPad apps
  • Adobe Systems Acrobat
  • Video shooting and editing skills
  • Website creation software – Joomla! , WordPress and Drupal are examples of ones I often see on job posting. If you have created a blog or a website using WordPress, extend your knowledge and skills by learning and implementing the latest upgrades
  • Software to create mobile apps to leverage for campaigns
  • Analytics – although being a data analyst is not expected, understanding the basics and being comfortable with numbers and with an analyst is expected
  • Microsoft Office software including SharePoint Server and Excel. Formulas are a must know!
  • Some knowledge HTML coding
  • Cascading Style Sheets
  • Podcasting software

Deirdre-Breakenridge “Public Relations is becoming more intergraded with marketing and advertising,” said Deirdre Breakenridge, an experienced public relations professional and author of several books on the intersection of technology and public relations. “It’s important to embrace new technology to do justice to the brand. All areas such be working together.”

And although these skills may not be taught in university classes, it’s important to invest some time in learning them before you graduate, she said.

Check out classes online or professional development classes at a local community college as they’re both budget-friendly options. Some of those classes even offer certificates that can be earned with just three or four shorter classes.

While technology is becoming almost a basic requirement for entry level jobs, good, strong writing skills still rule.

“You need a balance of the two,” Breakenridge said. “Always strive for the balance.”

A healthy balance of skills can set you apart from the crowd of applicants.

How many of you are making the effort to go beyond your college classes or to upgrade your personal talents in these areas?


Kris Antonelli,  is a freelance writer and communications professional based in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. metro area. As a former newspaper journalist, her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Sun and other publications. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter or via email at Kris.antonelli@yahoo.com.

Inside Corporate Communications (for a PR Agency)

Keep Calm and Hire A PR AgencyAfter graduating college, I was torn between searching for jobs in-house or at an agency. I knew I wanted to work in corporate communications, but the advice I received from PR professionals, professors and classmates was to try the agency route first, since there are more entry-level opportunities. Given the economic climate and difficult job market, I took that advice, but through a twist of fate found myself in a role I never even knew existed: in-house corporate communications for a PR agency!

Every day is an adventure, and there are many new skills and lessons I’ve learned through my experience so far. There’s no such thing as a typical day, but my main tasks include supporting new business opportunities, helping teams craft industry award submissions, drafting internal and external communications materials, pitching trade media, event planning and managing website content and social media properties.

The best part about working in corporate communications for a PR agency is the ability to learn how both roles function. Everyday I watch my colleagues on the account side working hard to service clients while I’ve been able to support them through corporate communications. Even though we have different roles, many of our tasks are similar (e.g. research, media lists, event management) and as new PR professionals, we’ve all learned to master the art of multi-tasking and time management—key skills needed in PR!

So as you embark on (or even just consider) a career in corporate communications, here are three tips I’ve found to be helpful in this role:

  1.  Learn as much as possible about your organization and industry. Working in corporate communications, it is vital to know everything you can about the company: its products or services, its leaders, its mission, its employees, etc. Typically, the corporate communications team serves as a liaison between the organization and external audiences, with the head of the team taking on the role of company spokesperson. If reporters or potential clients contact our team looking for information on a campaign we ran in Paris, a global offering that just launched or a new client in New York, it’s our job to answer their questions or at least be able to refer them to someone who can help. Thus, the more you know about your company, the better equipped you’ll be to respond to inquiries. The best way to learn about what’s happening is to talk to your colleagues and find out what they’re working on, pay attention to emails and updates sent around the office and study the firm’s website, policies, case studies and credentials, anything that will provide background information to give you a deep understanding of your company’s business.
    The same goes for the industry. For example, in my role I need to know the ins and outs of what’s happening in public relations, the latest news from our competitors and new developments and trends that might impact our business. It’s important to become an expert in your field so you understand and can speak with accuracy and authority to internal and external audiences. As a bonus, you will be seen as a vital asset and go-to person for others within the company who may have questions on what you’ve learned!
  2. Develop excellent writing skills. Whatever tasks are thrown your way, it will most likely involve writing. From press releases to internal announcements to case studies, I spend most of my days writing and editing various communications materials. Being able to write well is one of the most important skills a PR professional should have (this is also applicable to other PR roles). Your writing will improve over time but definitely take advantage of every opportunity to practice. If a colleague needs an email or press release drafted, offer to take a stab at it. Once it’s finalized, ask to see the final version so you can compare it to your draft and see what changes were made. This will help you learn what you need to improve upon for next time.
  3. Network. Get to know as many people inside and outside the company as you can. Networking is an important tool we hear about time and time again, but it’s truly essential in the corporate communications role. Start building relationships from day one with your colleagues. I’ve been given the opportunity to support new business pitches, award submissions and media relations efforts across practices and across offices. With each project, I am introduced to someone new, and that person becomes a great resource for the future when a similar project or request arises. The same is true externally. I’ve built relationships with PR trade journalists in order gain visibility in the media. Most importantly, don’t just reach out to someone when you need something; show an interest in their job, and figure out how you can work together so you can both meet your goals.

Have you ever considered doing PR for a PR agency? What other questions would you ask?


Stephanie ManasStephanie Manas is a corporate communications specialist/senior account executive at Ogilvy Public Relations, providing business development and internal and external relations support to the global communications agency. Previously, she held positions in theatrical PR at Boneau/Bryan-Brown and book publicity at Penguin Group USA. Prior to that, Manas interned at FleishmanHillard, The Broadway League and 451 Marketing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and economics from Boston University. Manas is the co-chair of the marketing committee for PRSA-NY. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter. For more information on Manas, check out her recent Q&A in Syracuse University’s Newhouse PR blog.

The Truth About Entertainment PR: Three Common Myths That Need Busting

As a college student, I remember a great deal of fellow PRSSA members wanting to become entertainment communicators. I mean, how could one not, right? You essentially get paid to read TMZ all day long and tweet about it, which sounds pretty easy.

This is totally not the case.

For the past two years, I have worked as a social media professional over at MTV. While there, I learned three major things PR students should know before pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

You can’t turn it off

The field of entertainment is nonstop. How celebrities spend their holidays is newsworthy, which means there will always be work during those times. Personally, I enjoyed working on projects like the 12 Days of Jerzmas on Christmas, so it was always a win-win situation in my book. However, understand that while some of your friends are going home to be with loved ones for the holidays, you could be stuck in the office.

Don’t be a super-fan

While we all have our favorite celebrities we would love to meet, in entertainment it’s not cool – at all – to be an overt, super fan. There’s a thin line between being a crazy fan and someone who is familiar with a celebrity’s professional portfolio. One of my PR instructors taught me something that truly helped me prepare to work with celebrities: always act like you have been there before. Acknowledge that you are familiar with their background (some celebs will test your knowledge), but act how you would when meeting any other person.

Name-dropping can be annoying

So, let’s be honest. It is hard not to name drop when you have a really cool entertainment job. In the first few months, the most humble person wouldn’t be able to fight the urge to say, “I work for a cool celebrity or brand.” The reaction you get from everyone else never gets old, but it does get annoying to others … fast. No one is going to do anything for you and not expect something in return. It just doesn’t happen in entertainment. So, if you – the name dropper – get invited to a pretty “cool” party, it’s probably because someone expects your celeb to make an appearance or your media brand to cover it. Keep in mind that sometimes people have their own agenda, but what is within your control is whether or not you will be a part of it.

I truly enjoyed my experience in the entertainment world, but make sure you understand the truths behind common myths before pursuing PR in this industry.


Kion SandersKion Sanders is a digital strategist with a strong passion for the entertainment industry. As a digital strategist at MTV, he works with a variety of production companies to drive awareness to several TV-show franchises. Some of his duties involve community management, event planning, developing and executing social marketing strategies.