IABC - International Association of Business Communicators Be Heard


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Unsolicited career advice to PR students

March 26th, 2012

By Donna Papacosta

One side benefit of having been around the block a few times, as they say, is the opportunity to share some of my experience with students. When I attend IABC events, I usually encounter students and recent grads eager to speak with the more seasoned practitioners.

I consider myself a student, too, albeit one with a little more mileage than a recent grad. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  • A presence on social media platforms is a must if you want to distinguish yourself and attract potential employers. Think of a niche you can blog about, whether it’s fashion or cars.
  • Learn to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Perhaps set up a few pertinent boards on Pinterest, too.
  • Read leading PR, communication and digital marketing bloggers, and comment on their posts. Follow them on Twitter and elsewhere. As Mitch Joel says, it’s “permission-based stalking.” Need some names to get started? Joe Thornley, Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Dave Fleet, Kami Watson Huyse, Gini Dietrich, Martin Waxman, Mitch Joel, Valeria Maltoni.
  • Listen and learn from podcasts. I don’t know what I’d do without my weekly fix of For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report and Inside PR.
  • Internships and networking (both in person and online) are the best ways to score an interview and land a job.
  • Think about creating a video résumé and putting it on your blog or website.
  • Your job interview starts as soon as you approach the employer’s building. Be kind to the receptionist!
  • Don’t just join IABC; volunteer to get known.
  • Never be afraid of hard work.
  • It’s best to work for someone else before starting your own business. Learn on their dime.
  • If you don’t have enough samples of your work to show, volunteer to create a website or brochure for a church or small charity, or write articles for a community newspaper. Whatever your skill set, use it!
  • You have to hustle. No one is going to hand you anything on a platter (I think my Mom said this first).

Donna Papacosta, IABC/Toronto

Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications is a writer, speaker, podcaster and consultant who helps individuals and companies to find their passions, share their stories and build their businesses. Connect with Donna @DonnaPapacosta

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