By: Megan Valentine, PRSSA member
After obtaining a degree in public relations, one of the biggest challenges graduates face is deciding exactly what they want to do with their education. While graduate school is definitely an option, many feel that they have at least the minimal skills and experience to jump right in.
Public relations professionals can be found in nearly every facet of every industry, from entertainment to health care and non-profits to politics. While this is a blessing in terms of the number and variety of available positions, it makes narrowing down the options very difficult. In addition, the type of work done in a corporate environment is considerably different than that taken on by agencies.
In an agency, each individual works with a range of clients on a daily basis and must be able to adapt accordingly. The assignments are typically very fast-paced and being able to identify writing styles, audiences and objectives is extremely critical. Multi-tasking is a must and each day consists of diverse responsibilities.
Working in corporate public relations is a better fit for those who enjoy consistency and would like to handle one, specific client instead of multiple. While in-house tasks still usually vary day-to-day, it is much easier to establish a particular voice and seek out relationships with media outlets that are relevant to the company.
After determining which atmosphere would be best for you, it is also important to look into what skills you have refined the most and where you could become a valuable asset. For example, someone who enjoys working online would thrive in positions that involve blogging, social media, search engine optimization and email marketing.
For those who would rather look into the big picture of a company, brand strategy may be a better route. Strategists work to help the public understand distinguishing qualities and increase awareness of a product or person. They expand upon branding techniques already put in place and find creative new ways to heighten recognition.
Outside of these typical routes for those in pubic relations, there are various other ways to put your degree to good use. Skills learned in strategic communications can also be valuable to positions in advertising, event planning, journalism, human resources and marketing. Even entrepreneurs working toward opening a business must know at least the basics of public relations in order to be successful.
The best way to get an idea of where you will fit most comfortably in the spectrum upon entering the industry is through internships and shadowing professionals in your area of interest. Finding your niche is the key to strengthening necessary skills and tailoring your experiences to fit your desired career.