What your CAO offer won't tell you about PR

This is a momentous week for thousands of 2016 Leaving Cert students ahead of the first round of CAO offers.

Over the coming days, students will discover whether all that hard work paid off as they find out what college or university they will be attending.

It’s one of the most exciting times in anyone’s life – with a fair bit of stress and anxiety thrown in for good measure!

CAO offers the first step

The CAO offers are the first step towards a new start, a new life – and a new career.

Many young people will be considering an offer to study Public Relations, one of the fastest-growing sectors in today’s communications world.

Your results are one thing, but what your CAO offer won’t tell you is whether you are actually suited to a career in PR.

You need to be a writer

You will quickly discover that almost everyone in PR is a writer. Even the non-writers are expected to write. Publishing content is now one of the core functions of a PR agency. That's why the more people who can turn out well-written, perfectly optimized content, the better.

If writing is not your strength, use your college years to get better. Like everything else, your copywriting skills will improve with practice. Grab every opportunity: draft a speech for a friend’s wedding, start a blog about college life, rewrite your CV every six months. Write ‘til you get it right!

You need to be a talker

To make it in PR, you need to be a people person with social skills. Not just social media skills but actual social skills.

After all, in your average day your average PR professional spends more time talking than anything else. We talk to colleagues, journalists, suppliers, and of course clients. People having conversations are still what makes things happen in PR, and that’s not going to change.

You need to be a juggler

When you join a PR agency from college, you’re likely to be pitched in at the deep end, doing all kinds of different things and learning on the fly.

This is perfect training for a career in the industry because no two days are the same. You'll be brainstorming campaign ideas, pitching stories to journalists, researching trends, meeting clients, writing blogs, going to networking events, the list is endless.

You will be busy so you’re going to need to deal with a very diverse workload.

You need to be a student

Most industries are virtually unrecognizable compared to, say, 20 years ago. Public Relations seems to be changing at even faster rate, so get ready for a lifetime of learning!

PR is constantly adapting to suit the needs of the communications landscape. Where media goes, PR follows. That’s why we spend more and more time on social channels, producing video footage, figuring out how to optimize content. Ours is an ever-changing industry, so be prepared to change with it.

You need to be a curious kitten

Talk to any successful PR practitioner and you’ll discover just how clued-in they are to what is happening in the world.

PR clients rely on their agencies to be their ‘eyes and ears’ on the market. Multinationals, in particular, need to have an agency with its finger firmly on the local pulse, alert to any possibility or potential crisis.

When you join a PR firm, you’ll be expected to stay right up to date with anything and everything that may affect your clients.

You need to start right now

So, PR is your chosen path and your CAO offer confirms it. Well done! Get yourself off to college / university and give it everything you’ve got.

While you’re doing that, keep a close eye on the industry. Start making connections with agencies, e.g. through Jobbio. Write to agencies too and ask about possible interning or work experience during the holidays.

Use the next three or four years not only to build your knowledge of PR but to build a network of contacts that can help you in the next stage – landing your first job.

Good luck to all those getting their Leaving Cert results this week and whatever happens, don’t stop believing in yourself!

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(Photo via Frank Miller.)

Topics: Blog, communications, college, PR, public relations, CAO, leaving certificate, university

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