Assignment: Take a look at the jobs section of PR Week. What kind of skills are employers looking for? Are there differences between sectors? Is there a sector that appeals to you?
Browsing through the job opportunities on www.prweekjobs.com it became obvious; as was expected, that all sectors require an applicant has ‘excellent writing skills.’ A large part of communication is written, be it a press release, an email, a newsletter, etc; therefore an enjoyment in writing and the ability to enchant a reader throughout the text is a desirable quality that is necessary within any Public Relation role as PR is basically the art of communication.
They all made casual references to ‘B2B’ as well as consumer relations; a few on the list saying that they wanted/or would accommodate an applicant who was specialised in either. At first the B2B acronym didn’t make sense to me, but after researching it was business to business it was just another expected characteristic of ‘what public relations people do’ (Fawkes, 2004: 45). It was intriguing that employers would want specialists in either B2B or B2C (business to consumer) when it shows the mark of a good writer when they can easily adapt to different styles. Alas, it seems comforting that employers do have a sense of reality and understand that not everyone is going to be the best at everything and will play to an applicant’s strengths, as, at the end of the day, it is results that matter for the agency and client, and we cannot wait around forever for the perfect person.
In sectors that were concerned with travel and government they specified intimate knowledge of the area, to the point of political agenda and contacts. Prior knowledge is useful in most careers but PR practitioners need to know more than just media related topics, they need to know what goes into the media and every influence; which can just grow in every sector. They need to be omniscient. As amazing as it could be to know a lot, to try and keep so much knowledge, especially in the media where it changes daily, would be intensely difficult. It would become too easy to neglect something unless your time management and observation skills were acute; therefore it can be concluded here that PR practitioners need to be very devoted people.
This statement is reinforced with some examples of skill descriptions such as ‘enthusiastic and passionate about PR’ and ‘willing to go the extra mile for the client.’ To have the loyalty to your career for this, as it is a 24/7 role, would be terrifying for most, and so a strong personality is needed. This is not said explicitly but the cumulative ethos of skills listed so frequently within the jobs description almost screams warning to the weak willed.
Carrying on from an earlier claim; it was surprising to see how often the requirement of contacts came up in the descriptions. Looking at both senior and junior level applications I knew senior roles would already need to have a place within the media industry, but for the juniors it was still necessary, and nobody would take anyone with under a year experience. Therefore, placements whilst in education are really important as Emma Newman, marketing manager at Decca records said in a guest lecture at UCF, Friday 23rd April 2010.
The media is about knowledge of what you know, but there is a very big emphasis on who you know, as friendship relationships will get favours done quicker in the industry, it can be the difference between a press release printed or thrown out.
TENCH, Ralph. YEOMANS, Liz. 2006. Exploring Public Relations. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.