Congrats to the graduating class! If you are among the many feverishly sending out your resume to fashion PR agencies (our firm's inbox has been flooded in the last few weeks), take a moment to review the following helpful hints to ensure your application makes the cut!
At minimum, review the agency website, and take note of how they describe themselves, the tone and any recent news. Do a quick search to locate any recent articles, press releases or awards the agency has won. Demonstrate through your cover letter (or email intro) that you understand what the company is about and are up to date on recent news. Ask friends or professors for additional information about the firm's reputation, community involvement, etc.
Hiring managers will be impressed (and relieved) to find someone who has obviously researched before she resume'd! When you make time to get to know a potential employer, they are more likely to take the time to get to know you. This will not only help to prepare you for an interview if you do receive a call back, but it also shows that you have taken an interest in the company you hope to work for one day.
Review and revise your introduction email
There is simply no excuse for a poorly written email introduction. Anyone that submits a cringe-worthy cover letter is immediately disregarded - after all, PR is all about communication. How can a company trust you to communicate on behalf of clients if you can't click the spell check button! Write your cover letter and then save it as a draft and come back to it later - our eyes are notorious for filling in little errors, and taking some time away from your words can help ensure your communication is error-free.
Think of it this way, if all the skills are the same between you and another candidate. You both have similar work experience, education and an immense amount of enthusiasm at your interviews but one of you has a typo in his/her cover letter, resume or writing test...who is more likely to get the job?
Meet & greet with manners
"Hey" is not a proper greeting. If you can't find contact info (which may showcase your research abilities or lack of ~ research skills are also critical in PR!), try "Dear HR Director" or "Dear Hiring Manager," etc if you really cannot find the proper person to email. For smaller firms, use the CEO or principals name if you don't have the name of anyone there and are just reaching out to an info address.
Tip: If you're applying to a PR firm, it's likely there is a press release floating around in cyber space that references a name and current title of someone at the firm where you are applying. Also, a phone call to an agency to ask whom to address the letter to is also appropriate (as long as the job posting does not specify "no calls.")
Let your personality come through
While you want to keep your communication professional, don't become so formulaic as to create a cover letter that could come from anyone, anywhere. What is it about you - your goals, experience and skills that make you an ideal candidate? And what is it about you - your personality, values and interests that make you an ideal person to work with?
When you land a call back or interview, be authentic. At entry-level, there is no benefit to you to act like you know more, or have done more, than you do. If you have a tendency to "embellish" a little, don't.
Show your enthusiasm for clients, projects and tasks and demonstrate quick-thinking and learning rather than pretending you understand something you don't. It may sound counter-intuitive, but asking questions and admitting you don't know something is an attractive quality in a potential employee! As opposed to pretending you know how to do something that you don't. Your lack of knowledge or understanding will show and may make you out to be a less than flattering candidate. It's alright to still be learning, especially in an intern role or entry-level position.
Shhh on Social Media
Many candidates focus on securing an interview and forget that the interview process continues right up until you sign on the dotted line! Follow-up your interview within a day or two with a hand-written thank you note. If all things are the same between you and another candidate (i.e. solid education, great work/internship experience, superb writing and communication skills, pleasant personality, etc.), a thank-you note or e-mail after an interview may be the one deciding factor.
Also, stay mum on your social channels (anyone else see that episode of Kell on Earth?). Assume that agencies will be following your Twitter account (hopefully you have set your Facebook privacy settings), blog and Linkedin so use that to your advantage by demonstrating your interest in PR news, participation in PR chats, etc.
Bonus Tip: That Passion for Fashion? We know all about it...
If you're going to work in fashion PR, yes, we want to know that you llloooovvveee fashion, but understand that loving fashion is only one part of the industry. We always say that "working" in fashion is...well, "working" in fashion. It requires the same basic skill sets that other employers require and it's not all sparkle and glamour. Demonstrate a willingness to work hard, pull your weight, and commit to helping clients succeed and you will already have a leg up on the competition!
When you accept an internship or job, even if it's not your "dream" internship or job, be a team player. Working in PR requires the ability to think on your feet and adapt quickly. Be open to learning and growing wherever you are, and you'll be an excellent addition to your employer's team and build skills that you will have wherever you are in your professional fashion career.
Find Fashion PR Jobs
Some great places to seek internships and job opportunities are available right here at PRCouture (and make sure to read our Getting In series to learn about how others landed their first fashion PR jobs) as well as 24 Seven Talent, Free Fashion Internships and Intern Queen. For more tips on cover letters, resumes and the like, visit PR recruiter Lindsay Olsen's blog as well.
Photo Credit: Merrimack College