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Careers in public relations (PR) and corporate communications revolve around improving and maintaining public perceptions of a brand. These roles help spread the word and bring positive publicity to corporations across all sectors and industries. PR jobs are generally split into two strands: agency (or in-house) and corporate (or client-side).
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Crucial and complementary to a company’s overall marketing strategy, PR is a versatile profession that provides unique exposure and progression. From content creation and media relations to event management and strategic counselling, the work is rarely the same on a day-to-day basis. Essentially, any business with a brand and reputation to protect will see great value in hiring a PR specialist to manage its communications and stakeholders.
Working as a communications professional gives you access to a huge range of skills, whether you’re working on the corporate or agency side. Candidates on the agency side will find themselves working in account management positions from Executive through to Director level. Typical roles on the corporate side, however, revolve around PR, Corporate Communications, Communications, or Corporate Affairs, all of which extend to head of department level in terms of seniority. This career path may also involve positions that relate to Marketing Communications, Brand Communications or Digital PR, as well as more specialised PR roles. These can focus on Media Relations, External Affairs, Internal Communications, Sustainability, Government, or Public Affairs.
Popular Industries For Jobs in PR & Corporate Communications
Agency and consultancy roles remain high on the most in-demand list. However, over recent years, Salt has partnered with clients from industries such as tech, e-commerce, insurance, property, and financial services to identify exceptional PR talent.
With multiple digital avenues to disseminate information, the opportunities for PR specialists are immense. For jobseekers, in particular, this exposure has enabled them to stretch and challenge industry norms towards a more integrated approach. It has also called for a change in mindset to further promote the unique value proposition of the discipline in light of digital trends.
As such, the biggest changes in the industry relate to expectations around skills and hiring. Storytelling is at the heart of every PR job scope, making it obvious that strong writing skills are an absolute must for any candidate. However, there is also a rising demand for digital skills, particularly in social media, content marketing, online advertising, SEO, and metrics. As PR & marketing become increasingly aligned, it is common for communications jobs to involve a blend of these skill sets.
The prospects of careers in PR revolve around how consumers’ behaviour changes. Notably, despite the many positive developments in the industry, the emergence of new technologies has inevitably affected the media landscape. The unprecedented access consumers have to brands online has also made the process of sharing information more complex.
Gone are the days when it was enough to pitch news releases to the media. Although this is still a relevant practice today, professionals are urged to raise their game and continually identify creative solutions for better, more measurable brand exposure. This requires a specialised set of hard and soft skills which technology would be hard-pressed to replicate, especially in an industry driven by compelling content, meaningful relationships, and boundless creativity. If anything, experts anticipate that more specialised roles will contribute to a further breakdown of the silos between communications and digital marketing.
PR professionals wear many hats—as storytellers, advisors, intermediaries and spokespeople. The key responsibilities of the role involve a great deal of writing, strategic messaging and relationship building. As such, exceptional written and verbal communication skills are requisites for landing a job in PR. Many employers also look for a proven track record of managing strategic communications initiatives from planning through to execution, and typically strong media networks. Industry experience may also be considered, whether in B2B or B2C capacities, and agency experience tends to be particularly desirable.
As social media has become an integral component of the communications process, an ability to navigate digital platforms is a big plus. Many companies and agencies are expanding their services in this direction in order to offer broader value, most successful candidates are forward-thinking and adaptable communicators who truly embrace the complementary nature of traditional and digital communications.
Candidates are encouraged to treat their CV as a personal pitch and we recommend crafting a strong introductory summary that reflects skills in line with the targeted job. This could lead into a clear and concise list of PR-specific skills, along with relevant transferable skills (such as the ability to meet tight deadlines, research and reporting, ease with networking and presentations) and soft skills (such as a creative mind, interpersonal skills, and attention to detail).
Nothing demonstrates what a candidate can do better than being able to show what they have done, so the rest of the CV should outline how those skills have been put in action, in the form of specific achievements, ideally quantified to demonstrate skill level. It is important to take note of industry keywords like “press release”, “media kit”, and “crisis communications”. Those with agency experience should list out key clients, projects managed, and overall results achieved.
Entry-level candidates should highlight their education and elaborate on any relevant academic projects, internships or voluntary work experience, coursework, and professional writing experience. Most importantly, candidates should triple-check their CV for accuracy—grammar, spelling or formatting errors could be a massive deal-breaker in this industry!
Although it will depend on the nature of the business and its corporate culture, job interviews in communications are usually less formal. This is so that employers can pick up on a candidate’s attributes and personality cues. Hard skills can be easily assessed with a writing test or case study. However, there are many nuances in this field such as communication or writing style.
During the interview, hiring managers will typically be more interested in assessing a candidate’s motivations, as well as their hands-on experience, industry knowledge, and strategic thinking capabilities, in line with the job. Candidates should do extensive research on the company and job scope, and be prepared with concrete examples of situations and projects that would demonstrate their skills in action. The STAR methodology—using each answer to outline the situation, task, action, and result—is a particularly useful interview response structure when interviewing for PR roles.
Based on our research, these are five of the most important interview questions in this field:
While a specialised degree in Communications isn’t necessarily required to successfully get a job in PR, they are highly regarded, particularly for fresh graduates. A candidate could also venture into PR from other educational disciplines—most commonly journalism, marketing, or law—as long as they have the fundamental skills for the role, and are prepared to take on the full gamut of responsibilities. For example, we have seen many journalists transition into PR, as they can write, understand how the media operates, and are used to tight deadlines. Experience generally takes precedence over qualifications in this field, so candidates are encouraged to get as much relevant exposure as possible, with or without a bachelor’s degree.
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