If you’re anything like me, you chose your college major with a vague understanding of what job opportunities were out there. You thought, “I’ll graduate and then get a job doing PR for a company or I’ll work for an agency and do PR for lots of different companies.” Done.
The good news is that yes, you can absolutely do that. An entry-level job as a PR Coordinator or Assistant Account Executive is the first rung on the career ladder that ends with something like VP of Global Communications, or for the entrepreneurial, CEO. However, there are heaps of other jobs out there that align wonderfully with your PR training.
Here are 10 of them:
1. Focus Group Facilitator
In your PR classes, you learned how important it is for companies to conduct research among their target audiences in order to create effective communication. You also probably learned about primary and secondary research. One of the ways that companies get primary research on their customers is by conducting in-person focus groups. I know someone who does this for Nordstrom – and it’s a pretty sweet gig. As a focus group moderator or facilitator, it’s your job to develop or assist with executing focus groups, including process and procedure on behalf of a company. You’ll need strong analytical, organizational, presentation and problem solving skills.
2. Freelance Digital Writer
Here’s a secret: not all companies write their own blog content. Instead, they outsource blog article writing to their PR or marketing agency, or to a freelancer. I supplemented my income quite nicely for a while by penning a few articles a month for different companies.
As a PR grad, you’re a skilled written communicator (right?). So take what you have learned from your PR or journalism classes and being in college (hello research!) and apply it to a career as a digital copywriter or blog ghostwriter. Reach out to PR and marketing agencies or companies with an active blog with your portfolio and offer your services as a freelance writer. Remember that in the beginning in order to build your portfolio you might need to pitch your work for free, but believe me – that won’t last long if you keep at it!
My first job working in fashion was as a copywriter. I was responsible for writing the product descriptions for hundreds of different jewelry pieces for a large ecommerce website. As a PR grad you are well-versed in persuasive writing and you can use that insight as a copywriter for a fashion or lifestyle brand, or as part of the creative department at a digital marketing or ad agency. As a copywriter you could be tasked with everything from the words on a website banner to naming new products or businesses, as well as punchy social media content.
4. Email Marketer
Soon after I started working as a copywriter, I took over email marketing as well. For many companies, email marketing is the single biggest direct sales driver (and way more of a guarantee than media outreach), and the mechanics go well beyond simply pasting in an image promoting a sale and sending it out. A mix of analytics, creativity, design and coding can all be of value in a position like this, where your responsibilities will include planning and executing email campaigns, managing customer segments and unsubscribe lists, testing email performance and deliverability and reporting on campaign performance.
5. Trend Forecasting
As a PR or marketing major you likely learned about different theories that explain how a product, service or trend makes its way into mass consciousness and mass consumption. As a trend forecaster, your job is to identify emerging cultural, societal and consumer trends and explain the business impact of these trends for companies. You may either work internally for a company or as part of a companies who specializes in trend forecasting.
Take a cue from Deirdre Breakenridge, the CEO of Pure Performance Communication who doubles as an adjunct professor at NYU (or my own experience teaching at FIDM and the Art Institute). While you might not land a gig teaching grad students at NYU right away, there are many ways to teach and you’ve got the presentation, writing, promotional and organizational skills to be a great educator. If you have a particular area of expertise, passion or a unique perspective, you can develop and teach online courses for places like Skillshare or Udemy to those unable to study PR in school or looking for a career change. To see if teaching is for you, volunteer to give a lecture/talk to your former PRSSA group or high school.
7. Blog Editor
With so many bloggers turning initial passion projects into full-time careers, there are new support positions that help bloggers support the development and growth of their mini-empire. Look for job openings on your favorite blogs, or simply reach out and offer your services as a PR/marketing professional and writer. You could help to coordinate sponsorships, assist with photo shoots, and prime blog content with powerful headlines and keywords. Of course, as you’re learning so much about the blogging business, there’s no reason not to try your hand at it as well. You have the opportunity to create an entirely original space that is all yours – so mix PR with fashion and food, if that’s your thing. Use your PR skills to publicize your own work – think about yourself as the client!
8. Executive Assistant
If you’re really interested in one particular agency or company but they don’t have any PR jobs open when you’re searching, sometimes the best way to get into the company is through another role – like as an executive assistant or office manager. While much of the position isn’t particularly related to what you learned in school, it’s a foot in the door and a way to intimately learn the business and showcase your talents to the right people. Impress them with your creative, intuitive nature and after you’ve put some time into the role you’ll be in a good position to ask to be considered for a PR position when it becomes available, especially since most companies look to promote within.
9. Gubernatorial Campaign Fellow
You don’t have to be a huge politics nerd to work for a political campaign (although it wouldn’t hurt), but some of the skills you’ll get to utilize while on the campaign trail will prep you for the fast-paced world of PR. Cold calling, event planning, public speaking, recruitment, persuasion, and audience engagement are all parts of the job – many of which are learned on the spot. And while your resume might not read exactly like Hilary’s, think about it this way: if you’ve ever worked retail, you’re an expert saleswoman; if you’ve ever held a position in school clubs or organizations, you’re a leader.
10. Community Manager
If you’re a people person, then you’re going to have a knack for community management. Someone who loves to solve problems, knows the ins-and-outs of social media communicates clearly and can solve issues rationally will thrive as a community manager. Studies have shown recently that customers expect an answer from every brand they engage with them on social – and that could be your role as a community manager. Show off your skills as a skilled writer, creative thinker, and energetic people person representing your favorite brands.
I hope these opportunities have you excited about what’s possible with a career in a communications field.