Whether you’re looking for a role in an agency or in-house, if you’ve decided on a career in PR and digital marketing, your days will be varied, challenging, insightful and fulfilling. Working in an agency in particular can be hugely rewarding – if you prove yourself, then progression is fast, and you will be given lots of responsibility from day one.
So, it’s no surprise that PR is such a popular career choice. In fact, according to Creative Skillset, the marketing and advertising industry employs 153,000 people in the UK, with graduates making up more than 70% of the workforce.
If you are looking to get into PR, you may well be asking yourself what exactly companies are looking for when it comes to employing the latest and greatest PR talent?
Well, as one of Edinburgh’s leading PR and digital agencies, here’s what we look for when recruiting graduates at Represent – it’s less about experience and more about attitude, so look to convey these qualities throughout the interview process:
attention to detail is vital
Attention to detail
You will be expected to write and proof lots of copy, draft and schedule social media content and email clients from day one, so attention to detail is vital. How can we expect clients to trust us to represent them if we are sending press releases with spelling mistakes or sharing a post with improper grammar? Show your potential employer that you care about attention to detail and you understand why it’s important.
Good communication skills
PR is all about communication, so good communication skills are a necessity when it comes to working in the industry. From picking up the phone to journalists and emailing clients, to presenting to your CEO or updating your manager on progress each week, you’ll need great communication skills, both written and verbal, from the get go if you want to succeed. Think about how you can demonstrate the importance of good communication and draw on your prior experience to show your interviewer that you’re a great communicator.
Those who succeed in PR use their initiative
Those who succeed in PR use their initiative. Do you go the extra mile or do you just do what’s asked of you? The world of PR and digital is changing all the time and working at an agency gives you first-hand experience of this – we are always looking for people with drive, initiative and a willingness to learn.
Ask yourself ‘what can I do to really sell this idea?’ or ‘what would really impress the clients?’ Think ‘This is what I have been asked to do, but what else can I add to it?’ It might be a good idea to take in some examples of your written work to the interview or if you’ve got a blog, send across some links to your prospective employer ahead of the interview. This shows you have initiative before you’ve even walked in the door.
One of the most important things we look for in our newest recruits is emotional intelligence – we’re looking for someone who can take constructive feedback, who can take the initiative, who knows what it means to build great relationships with colleagues and clients. People who lack emotional intelligence often struggle to create and maintain relationships, and a good relationship with clients and colleagues is key to building up trust and succeeding in any agency!
prepare a list of questions to ask
Always read the news before your interview and brush up on your digital marketing knowhow by reading up on it – Moz and HubSpot are just some of the useful resources available to you. Don’t forget to brush up on the company; What clients have they worked with? What campaigns do you particularly like and why? What is it about that particular company that makes you want to work there? Always prepare a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview too – about the industry, about the business, about the role. Questions show initiative and intrigue, both of which we want to see!
A lot of graduates feel they must have prior experience working in PR (an internship, for example) or a degree relating to it in order to get a foot in the door, but this just isn’t true. When I landed my first job in PR, I had a degree in theology to my name and had worked for a charity but had little PR or marketing experience to speak of! Employers are looking for a great attitude, initiative, a willingness to learn and be able to juggle lots of things at once. If you can demonstrate you possess these qualities, then you are on to a winner.
Hannah Tulloch is an Associate Director at Represent