As a field in the mass media, public relations or PR can be a great career path to follow. As a PR professional, you can handle the communications campaigns of organizations and individuals wanting to raise brand awareness and talk to the press during a major reputational crisis.

On average, PR professionals in the United States make around $62,800 per year. Apart from the hefty salary, this career choice is a great way to get into a wide array of industries. From government organizations to healthcare providers, there is always a high demand for PR professionals as new media becomes accessible to more and more people.

Like any other sector, getting a job in the PR industry isn’t a walk in the park. Getting ahead would mean learning the principles of reputation management, building networks, and developing communications strategies across various scenarios. Here’s a guide to help you through the process of building a career as a PR professional:

1. Learn more About the Industry

The PR industry is growing as businesses invest more time and resources in marketing and brand-building. Since there is a constant need for professionals who can handle certain areas of PR, including crisis communication and community relations. Choosing the right area for your career will help you determine the next steps you will need to take.

In addition to knowing the branches of PR, you should also take time to know the skills you need to succeed in the sector. Since communication is central to effective PR, professionals are expected to have excellent skills in writing and public speaking.

Apart from that, they also need to be effective critical and creative thinkers. PR specialists and communications managers deal with problems all the time, often under a lot of pressure. For this reason, you need to have a constant desire to learn about the field and face unfamiliar challenges along the way.

2. Know the Description and Other Details of the Job

What does a PR specialist do each day? Regardless of the type of PR job you are aiming for, it helps to know the specific tasks that you will need to handle. For instance, if you want a job as a strategic communications specialist, you could be spending most of your time creating press releases and organizing corporate events to improve your relationship with your market.

On the other hand, when working as part of a corporate crisis management team, your job will involve creating contingency plans and preparing different materials for internal audiences such as employees and external audiences like the local press, investors, and other stakeholders.

Doing thorough research on the job you want will help you identify the specific skills you want to enhance. That way, you will always make sure you are on the right track to the career of your dreams.

3. Sign up for Professional Training

Even if you didn’t take up media studies or communications as your undergraduate degree, you could still pursue formal PR training. In case you don’t have the time to get a second Bachelor’s degree, you can turn to degree-granting institutions that allow you to learn at your own pace. Training takes place online so you have more flexibility.

You can also sign up for online courses and workshops that can accelerate your learning. LinkedIn Learning, for instance, offers online training courses where you can obtain a certificate you can include in your professional profile. Coursera is also a great place to learn PR-specific skills such as drafting a crisis communications plan and using social media for consumer advocacy programs.

No matter the case, you need to check if the institution or organization offering PR training is legitimate. Check reviews by past students and ask for a curriculum guide so you will know if they are the right source of professional guidance.

4. Build and Nurture Networks

Networking is an essential skill that PR professionals need to constantly develop. Since they are dealing with diverse groups of people, they need to have the ability to connect and build lasting professional relationships with stakeholders.

As soon as you graduate or obtain your PR certificate, you should spend the first few months building networks with media organizations and fellow PR professionals. To do this, consider joining industry events or online groups where you can share insights about the PR sector.

In addition, you should also learn how to connect with business leaders and government officials. You can get started by joining non-government organizations and volunteering in private initiatives. Gaining exposure helps you position yourself as a serious PR professional, so grab every opportunity that comes your way.

5. Know where the Jobs are

As you continue building your reputation in the PR sector, you should know where to find potential employers. Apart from using job sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, consider looking for job listings on LinkedIn and Facebook.

There is also an abundance of PR jobs that cater to your skills and experience. You just have to check the organization if it’s the best place for starting your career. In addition, you might also apply for a PR job at an organization that shares your principles. If you are looking for media jobs in Australia that will help aboriginal communities, there are several websites you can check out.

It may take a long time to find the perfect employer, but it helps if you get to showcase your skills in a well-thought-out portfolio. Include samples of press releases, social media plans, and other materials that can help companies know if you are the right person for the job.

6. Take your Learning to the Next Level

Your success in the PR industry won’t always rely on the amount of training you have gained. Knowing how fast technology is evolving, you need to invest in learning new tools and methods in the PR sector. Your PR education won’t stop with the certificate you obtained. You may also need to take part in conferences, seminars, and other events that will help you stay current as the PR industry transforms.

If you are looking to build a career in the PR industry, your journey starts with putting your best foot forward!