As hot as PR may be right now (check out the growing gap between communicators and journalists), young professionals still face considerable challenges in navigating their way around the industry.
Last week we spoke to Courtney Lukitsch, principal and founder at Gotham Public Relations, to learn more about how she evaluates junior-level candidates. This week she shared more insights on what applicants need to know and the ways in which the industry will change in coming years.
PR is a rapidly changing business. What is your advice to those just coming on to the scene?
Do your research upfront. If you walk in cold and unprepared to an interview, a PR pro will smell it on you and disqualify you almost immediately.
It’s a confidence and intelligence game. Plus, at most firms, a candidate will be interviewed by different members no less than three times. This is true even at the junior level given team dynamics, but it’s even more crucial when interviewing for mid-level and higher jobs.
What are some things you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started?
Each agency is a tribe with a specific culture. Finding the right fit means surrounding yourself with firm executives to learn with and from, because not every match will be an ideal one.
Your first job is not your last job. Keep learning and challenging yourself to get promoted to progressive positions within relatively tight timelines. Don’t back away; change is good.
Which PR fields are friendlier to entry-level workers, and which provide better learning experiences?
Tech is great — it’s an industry featuring constant innovation with the introduction of new platforms and products every business quarter. These environments typically skew younger and more collaborative, and agencies with a tech focus generally expect entry level employees to adapt to a slightly sharper learning curve.
Anything involving design/creative thinking will offer a more sociable, welcoming setting than, say, a larger corporate firm.
In the new digital age, which skills do employers most value in applicants?
They are excited to see applicants with demonstrable written and verbal communications skills as well as in-person “people skills” that they can then parlay into the digital environment: visual insights and the ability to deal with crowds, deadlines, pressure and constant change.
Of course, they also expect candidates to be savvy across social media platforms and have the ability to manage multiple lines of communication. Additionally, they want employees who have the ability to comport themselves effectively either with clients in a team/solo environment. It’s vital to have confidence in your team’s ability to present itself effectively.
Which industry trends do you expect to grow more prominent in coming years?
Multidisciplinary practices are becoming the norm where PR skills are complemented within the Agency along with branding, visual, social media and digital responsibilities.
The PR environment is more competitive than ever, so refined analytical skills and the ability to come up with creative solutions carry increasing value. Metrics are progressively becoming more important in this context as well; clients now hold more firms accountable for delivering measurable results.