How to Interview for a Public Relations Job


How to Interview for a Public Relations Job. The good news for anyone entering or moving up in public relations (PR) is that the field is on the upswing. The PR profession has recovered from a low point in the early 2000s because spending is back up. Interviewing for a position in public relations is similar to the process in any professional job interview, but there are some notable differences.

Come Prepared

  • Bring writing samples and don't be surprised if a writing test or assignment is part of the interview process. Choose the best examples of your public relations writing ability and gear them toward the potential employer. If it's a non-profit organization, for example, you might choose a writing sample from work you did for a similar organization. Don't bring unwieldy samples or too many.

  • Research your potential employer. Go to the company's Web site and read everything, especially a public relations page. Read the company's annual report from cover to cover. This kind of homework pays off for most job applicants because they enter the conversation with confidence.

  • Do an Internet news search on the company. Read articles written about the company and its top management and take notes from a public relations point of view. Ask yourself: Does this company have PR challenges? Do they market themselves wisely? How much positive or negative publicity am I seeing? Make a list of ideas to improve the company's image.

  • Take a portfolio of your work, if you have been in the public relations business long enough to have accumulated written work (press releases, press kits, speeches, presentations) and won some exposure for clients (news clippings, ads, magazine and trade articles).

Be Ready to Talk About Yourself

  • Anticipate as many of the interviewer's questions about you as possible. In most professions, but especially in the public relations professions, your employer will want to know if you can communicate verbally and in writing. There is no better place to determine this than in your first conversation with him.

  • Rehearse your answers to questions, especially to those that are routinely asked during job interviews: What are your weaknesses? Your strengths? How well do you relate to other people? Why are you looking for a new job? Cite your successes at your last place of employment. What PR campaign are you most proud of?

  • Use hard numbers during the interview, particularly if the employer is a large corporation with big marketing and/or PR departments. To stand out, quantify your achievements in terms of percentages, dollar amounts and other measures that give the interviewer a concrete view of your worth to clients.

Bring a Strong Resume

  • Emphasize results, rather than responsibilities, in your resume. You may have held a number of interesting positions, but what did you accomplish? You resume should attempt answer questions like, what did you do for your clients? Did you win awards? In what ways were you responsible for specific client success?

  • Name your clients in your resume. If you have represented clients, then emphasize that. Nothing is more empty than a public relations resume that doesn't name the individuals, companies and organizations for which you have provided this valuable service.

  • State your strengths in technology. Being technologically savvy is a real plus in public relations, where Web sites, blogs, digital communications and the use of all kinds of media is increasing. Be specific and show how your understanding of new technologies has proven valuable to previous employers.

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