4 easy ways to gain PR experience (when you don’t have any)

Whether you’re looking to find an entry-level PR job or boost your resume for a coveted internship, you need experience to get started in the PR field. While it may seem like a vicious cycle (“How do I find a position that will give me experience if I don’t already have it?”) there are some easy ways that you can get more PR experience to prepare you for a communications career. See below some of my top tips on how to give yourself a leg-up in the PR industry!

1. Treat Your Personal Brand Like it’s your Job

Your most important brand is your own – use your social media including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to create an online presence while simultaneously developing skills that will serve you in your PR career. Play around with different features of each platform – evaluate what posts and hashtags get you more engagement in the form of likes, followers and comments and integrate your findings into future posts. Engage with influencers, editors, stylists, and bloggers in an organic way on these platforms to further build credibility within the industry.

In addition to having a strong social media presence that aligns with your career goals, your own blog is a great way to further differentiate yourself while interviewing for PR jobs. You’ll learn what elements make a successful blog post/story and can use that knowledge when drafting press releases, pitches, and invites. You might even get some pitches yourself and you’ll quickly learn what is and is not eye-catching!

If committing to your own blog isn’t in the cards right now, consider submitting guest articles from your perspective to sites that focus on millenial career-building or PR blogs. Or go directly to sites that explore topics that you’re interested in, like eco outlets where you can write your favorite green beauty products.

Blogging and contributing online can give you a huge advantage. Writing for the web and getting your name out there is another way to practice skills you’ll need for your PR job.

2. Think of job descriptions as secret codes for skill-building

Start reading job descriptions for entry-level PR jobs to figure out exactly what software and skills are needed. While many junior positions call for administrative work such as research, media list creation/updating, and maintaining lists of sample pulls, qualifications such as strong writing skills, social media management, even photography or project management can all be easily added to your resume in the form of professional development courses, volunteer work or simply creating samples inspired by brands you love for your portfolio.

3. Volunteer for Events You Care About

If you have a cause that you’re truly passionate about in your area, reach out to see if they need assistance with promoting any upcoming fundraisers or helping to plan events. Most charities will have someone on staff overseeing outreach but can always use extra hands to pitch in and help. Duties might include press release writing, sourcing vendors/sponsors for events, media list creation, and even pitching local media. Festivals and industry conferences can also give you hands-on experience and a chance to impress the very people you are hoping to work for in the near future.

4. Help local small businesses in your area

Another great way to develop PR skills and create the relationships necessary to thrive in the field is to volunteer your services to local or small businesses that you love. Think of it a bit like pitching yourself as a freelance publicist – for free!

Look into emerging brands or boutiques that may not have PR representation and offer your services pro-bono. Explain that you are just breaking into the field but want to develop your skill set while simultaneously helping to promote them to the greater community. Then get to work developing a PR plan, a client reporting template and basic media list to get things going.

Putting just a few of these practices into motion will make you infinitely more interesting to potential hiring managers, while giving you a chance to figure out what aspects of PR you like best.

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About This Author

Lindsey is the principal at Lindsey Smolan Public Relations, a NYC-based boutique public relations agency that specializes in generating buzz and press for emerging and established beauty, fashion, accessories, and lifestyle brands. LSPR has a genuine passion for helping clients grow and succeed, and their long reaching connections, from fashion and beauty editors at national magazines to influential celebrity stylists and the increasingly growing blogger and vlogger communities, help them do just that. LSPR strategizes with clients to determine their key brand messaging and how to effectively convey what exactly makes them unique to these key contacts.