With college graduations upon us, many soon-to-be former students remain in flux over their gainful employment. I would guess that the PR profession, in its many forms, will attract record numbers into the fold this year.
So how does one break into the profession absent PR work experience? One route may be by leveraging a passion — whether it be music, politics, art, technology, finance, the environment or sports, etc. — to open the door.
Huh? Let me explain. The PR profession is one of those rare callings whose skills can be applied to virtually any endeavor, enterprise, product, service or institution. (I suppose the accounting profession can make the same claim, but it just doesn’t seem the same.)
It is also an industry through which one can marry his or her personal passion with his or her skills, i.e., have your cake and eat it too.
Played college baseball? Every major and minor league team has a PR office. Volunteered for some environmental work? There are hundreds of environmentally focused NGOs, let alone auto, energy, and chemical companies with robust environmental PR practices. Play music? Well, name a classical orchestra, opera company or any musical artist today for which PR does not strike a resonant chord.
Now here’s one final warning: DO NOT accept a PR position for the money alone. Sure, if you can make a buck to ply our trade for something about which you are passionate, there’s nothing better. But don’t sell your soul. Cases in point:
- The DC based PR/lobbying firm that represents a nation with no regard for human rights or any other semblance of civilized society.
- The celebrity publicist whose daily chores consist of covering for a vacuous client (who’s soon going to jail).
- The well-regarded PR executive who moved to Arkansas to defend a company with many oppressive employment policies.
- Any former Bush administration official who trades on his connections to gut sound environmental laws.
- The former White House press secretary who knowingly misled the public, albeit on orders from his superiors, to make a case for going to war in Iraq.
Finally, if you choose the agency side of the PR equation, know that agencies come in every size and flavor. Choose one with strong ethical underpinnings and one whose clients’ objectives reflect your own.