In public relations, creating connections is essential to success. The key to communications is to, well communicate! According to Forbes, 80 percent of job openings are not advertised, but found through networking. However, finding media connections can be easier said than done, especially when getting started in public relations. As a new professional starting out in the industry, building media connections can seem intimidating and sometimes impossible. The best way to get started when you don’t have any connections is to build relationships before you need them. Here’s how:
A love of learning is crucial for the field of public relations. The PR field is rapidly evolving to include many other specialties. In order to stay relevant, you must monitor the latest news trends. The best way to do this is to start with free online resources like PR Daily and PR News, which cover aspects of public relations in an easy to read way.
If you are not already involved, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is a great way to start. In addition to the learning opportunites, PRSA provides agency lists and job boards that allow you to connect with others. The most important aspect of following trends is to display your knowledge of the industry. Create a blog and write about topics that interest you so others can see your work.
Building a social media presence to communicate with professionals instead of friends is the best way for other PR professionals to find you. This does not mean reposting a meme on Twitter, but creating your own personal style and brand.
The best way to build a social media presence is to showcase your personality and professional expertise in a captivating manner. This includes creating content that is visually appealing yet consistent on all of your social media platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and anything your name is attached to.
Finally, start sharing! Post consistently and professionally. Keep your brand polished by engaging with other public relations professionals who share the same passions as you do. Connecting with others through social media is one of the most important ways to build media connections.
Take Advantage of your Alumni Network
One of the greatest benefits of college is the accomplished alumni community. Many alumni will be willing to connect with you or give you an interview simply because of a strong connection to their Alma Mater. Reach out to your university and find out if there are any alumni networking receptions in your area. Additionally, reach out to your universities career services as they will usually have a list of connections that they are happy to share with you. Always have your business cards in your wallet just in case.
Find a Passion
One of the greatest aspects of public relations is that there are many avenues that professionals can go down. Most of the time, media relationships are forged through interests rather than at structured meetings. Whether it is fashion PR or sports PR, find what you love and research the top agencies and companies in this industry. Special projects director at Entrepreneur.com, Colleen DeBaise, said, "Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation." By spending time learning what interests you within PR, you will direct your job search and stay up to date on who's who in the business.
While making media connections can seem daunting, building connections is easy and enjoyable. Always keep up with your media contacts even if you don't think you will use them. Your old boss, intern friend or colleague could be the connection landing you a job. Don't be afraid to reach out. More often than not, public relations professionals are willing to help. That includes me! Follow me on Twitter or comment below to ask a question.