Arment Dietrich

New Grads: Five Tips for Success in PR and Marketing

By: Arment Dietrich | April 3, 2013 | 

New Grads- Five Tips for Success in PR and MarketingIt’s April.

They say April showers bring May flowers.

April also brings waves of students about to graduate, filled with anticipation, pounding the pavement in search of that first job in PR and marketing.

But this year, finding that first job will require a combination of digital and practical skills.

The competition is fierce. The economy is just now beginning to turn. You have to stand heads and shoulders taller than your peers to even get an interview.

Here are five tips to help new grads land their dream job.

1. Create Content

Your ability to create compelling content is integral to your success. Be a storyteller. In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, companies are desperate for content and for the employees who can create it quickly and well. Content creation is not limited to writing, but your portfolio should include blog posts, case studies, news releases, and articles.

If you don’t have those examples yet, it’s not too late. As PR recruiter Lindsay Olsen explains, you can easily start your own blog and write about your industry, professional topics, and current events. Read the leading bloggers in PR and marketing and comment on their posts. Volunteer for smaller non-profits that need help with content creation. Help them tell their stories. Write a news release for an upcoming event. Develop a case study for them. Create a short video that illustrates what they do.

2. Display Digital Proficiency

Working in PR and marketing today requires a level of digital proficiency that goes beyond simply using Facebook or YouTube. You need to be able to conduct online research efficiently, understand search engine optimization, show proficiency with tools that monitor and measure online communications, create and manage an email campaign, build a spreadsheet in Google Docs or Excel, and perform simple video editing.

Your level of digital proficiency must also include a solid understanding of what NOT to do online. Don’t have social network profiles that show you in unprofessional or compromising situations. Don’t use social tools to spam people or buy followers to pad a social network account. Don’t send texts or images that slander or defame anyone.

3. Showcase Leadership Skills

Employers are looking for recent graduates who can demonstrate a level of leadership and common sense. They want to know that you can be trusted with tasks that call for judgement or leadership. Are you someone who is willing to pitch in and help? Can you take a task and run with it without much supervision? Do you listen well? Are you organized? Are you honest and forthright?

Few of us have all of the traits of a leader, but most of us possess some leadership skills, even if we aren’t always aware of them. Take some time to do an analysis of who you are and list your strengths and weaknesses. Doing your own personal SWOT analysis  (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) will help you identify your own leadership skills and understand how to showcase those skills in action.

4. Highlight Creative Problem-Solving Abilities

A highly sought after “soft skill” in today’s economy is creative problem-solving. This is a process that involves identifying a goal or objective, gathering information, clarifying the problem that you are trying to solve, generating ideas, building a solution, identifying how results will be measured, and then creating the plan of action for its implementation.

Think outside the box. Connect the dots. How have you done this?

Go back through your experience to date. Where have you exhibited creative problem-solving? Is your resume lacking? It’s not too late to change that. Look around your school or community. Who needs help? What problems could you help solve? Follow the creative problem-solving process and document that experience as an example for prospective employers.

5. Demonstrate Ability to Translate Technical Information

You don’t have to be highly technical to be successful in today’s digital world. However, you become extremely valuable to an organization when you can demonstrate your ability to work with technology experts and translate information you get from them into language the client or manager can understand.

If you haven’t done this yet, do some research online. Learn about the basic language used in building technical solutions and work to understand what is involved in creating a website, or developing an app. What is the process and how can you provide a programmer or technical expert with the information he or she might need? Look around you. Go to your school’s technology department and start asking questions. Listen.

The fact you are even thinking along these lines and able to discuss this in an interview will make you stand out. If you are able to demonstrate instances where you have acted as a liaison or translator between technical experts and the less informed, so much the better–for you and for your prospective employer.

It’s April. It’s not too late to take these five tips and apply them to your situation. Building out examples of your abilities in each of these areas will make you stand out above other candidates and help land you that first job in PR or marketing.

  • Passing this along to my students, as well as all the PR and Business students at the college.

  • Allen – great info for students, grads & as a refresher for those already in the trenches!

    • lbatzer

      lizreusswig This was exactly what I was thinking.  Great post allenmireles.  I would also add, though I am not in any position to do hiring, that being interested in learning new things and being curious are other attributes that can go a long way.

  • Angela Moore

    I love this! I would also add Be Humble. Realize that your new bosses have all paid their dues and expect you to do the same. Hard work will be rewarded!

  • John_Trader1

    Excellent advice Allen!

  • Joseph Gier

    Keep your mind open and your attitude( and ambitions) in check.

  • Solid advice. 
    Corallary to #4 and I think one of the most important things there is: figure out what questions matter. Asking good questions is the foundation for all of the things you mention.

  • BethMosher

    Love this topic. All good advice. To go along with #1 I’d add: be a consumer of news. Read the newspaper, lots of them. PR people read the news differently and consuming news will help you be a stronger writer, understand what reporters write about, the list goes on and on. I’d also add (and only because I’ve sadly seen too much of it) earn your seat and work hard to keep it – don’t for one moment think you’re entitled to that job. And finally, be nice. To everyone. It’s noticed and it will go a long way.

  • Not my field, but this is great advice overall Allen. I think most grads today fail to realize the volume of resumes that employers receive for any open position — both due to the labor market for college grads under 25 and due to the ease of submission in the digital era.
    Applicants need a way to stand out from the crowd and showing demonstrable real-world skills is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

  • belllindsay

    Super advice. For anyone really – even if you’re just considering making a career change.

  • It’s interesting how we’ve gone from ‘be a good writer’ to ‘be a good content creator.’ I hope they’re teaching this in the schools, but I’m willing to bet they haven’t caught up yet.

    • bradmarley Bet you’re right about that, sadly.

    • juliaprior

      bradmarley I think those two go hand in hand, actually. It’s really hard to create content if your writing skills aren’t up to snuff. Alternately, it’s a lot easier to learn to create good content if you’re a good writer. But I agree, I don’t think schools are focusing on the content creation side of it enough just yet.

  • One of the things I always tell new college graduates is to follow the companies online where they think they’d like to work. For instance, if someone wanted to work here, we wouldn’t consider their resume if they hadn’t first built a relationship with us online. Sure, it makes sense because we use social in our jobs, but it works for other organizations, too. Young professionals have such a cool opportunity. They can get to know the people and better understand the culture before they interview. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

    • ginidietrich Two of my professors have taken time out of class to talk about the incredible value of informational interviews. They’ve highlighted the fact that when people know you are a student, they are far more likely to respond to an email or call and meet for coffee just to talk careers. But ….this magic wears off as soon as you graduate. As soon as you grab your diploma, a lot of people see you as a “hungry tiger,” a phrase Paris Hilton coined. People on the prowl in their own self-interest — just another job seeker. I just revealed that I pay more than cursory attention to Paris Hilton, didn’t I.

      • dwaynealicieginidietrichParis. tsk tsk Dwayne..

        Building a relationship outside of “I want a job” is so so huge and it’s a radically undervalued skill. You’re right that it is sooo much easier in professional orgs like PRSA or if you’re still in school.

        One piece of advice I’d add that’s in line with your comment Gini is that new grads should be careful about the job hunting advice of places like Monster and CareerBuilder, and frankly a lot of the career coaches out there. I got all worked up on my blog yesterday because of this infograhpic on Ragan –
        It’s an example of the “common sense” that is fed out to people who don’t have a lot of experience in job hunting. It is crucial that new grads understand your comment is not a convenience or something nice to do, it is essential, unless they want their future to be in the hands of an HR manager who doesn’t care or have the expertise to find successful candidates instead of matching keywords on dozens of resumes.

    • ginidietrich Right. *Having an “I could have had a V-8” moment and smacking the forehead* That’s such a practical way to get started, get a feel for the company and the issues it faces. Yup.

    • juliaprior

      ginidietrich Totally agree! It also helps the applicant decide if they really do want to work for that company. Culture is important, and you can usually tell a company’s culture by watching their social channels. It’s a great (and easy) way to see if it’ll be a good fit.

  • Excellent advice, allenmireles , and exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thank you! (Kind of makes me glad I’m slated to finish after the fall semester instead of spring, I have to admit.)
    Also, my services marketing professor (a current VP of marketing) told us just last night he thinks that experience with marketing automation is going to emerge as a highly desired skill…so coming to an understanding of that topic might help people get a leg up on the competition as well!

    • dwaynealicie allenmireles You know, I thin he’s right and how cool for you to have an inside track on that. Good luck to you and keep us posted on your progress. 🙂

  • To throw in one thought from someone who doesn’t do PR for a living, I would also suggest (and this sounds so basic but…..) that new grads make a point to interact with people from all generations — not just the ones around their age who are super-tech savvy. Sometimes it’s the “older” contact who doesn’t have a clue how to Tweet who is still in a position to help you understand institutional knowledge and organizational history — information that could prove super-valuable.

    • biggreenpen What an excellent addition to the conversation. You are so right. I read your comment  last night on my phone and was impressed with that thought. I’m thinking there’s even a separate blog post in that idea *wanders off pondering…* Thank you!

  • Christian Tovar

    What would you say is the best way to connect or network with people in the PR field? Due to my work location I am not always able to make it back home to participate in local networking events. Any other suggestions?

    • Christian Tovar We’ve had great success right here in this online community and the using other social networks as well. Also, you can use LinkedIn and Google+ to great advantage in joining groups and meeting people that way. And then there’s Twitter (my fav) where you can meet almost anyone and start to build a relationship.

  • I made this comment yesterday but I think livefyer ate some comments — anyway I was just going to say this is solid advice, and add that a corollary to #4 is to get good at asking questions. 
    How does it work? Why is it done this way? Is there some other way to think about this idea or process? Those are all the sorts of things that will serve new grads well. If you don’t study the art of being curious and asking the right questions, you’ll never have the opp to be creative and exercise leadership.

    • JoeCardillo You are so right. What a great addition and what an important skill set to develop. Thanks! I kind of love the concept of “the art of being curious”…

      • allenmireles JoeCardillo There’s a book in there somewhere =)

  • profkrg

    I really hope that students read this and take your advice. I agree that these are key skills to have.

  • middleagemomblog

    What helpful advice. I’m forwarding the link to my daughter.

  • Timslim16

    Hello Allen. Reading your post seemed like you were talking directly to
    me. As a blogger and an aspiring PR practitioner the tips suggested are
    really helpful. Personal branding truly stands a prospective employee
    out of the crowd. Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses (SWOT) is
    a sure way to focus energy on building the right frame of mind,
    especially when faced with an interview. There are available resources
    like blogs, books and podcast that explain how to best prepare for
    interviews, but this blog post breaks it down to the specifics for PR.

  • Some of the most concise and relevant advice I’ve seen that applies to both new grads and even high school students. I understand that students in today’s world may have it more difficult to secure a good job out of college. However, these students also have the unprecedented access to platforms to “build their brands” and distinguish themselves from other job candidates.

  • Great tips. SWOT is so old but still so good. I use it all the time. It can be very powerful when done the right way.

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