So you wanna work in PR – in an economic downturn

This is the third installment in an unplanned series of posts about getting a job in PR. I’m writing it following a panel I was on at Talk is Cheap 2.0 with Joe Thornley and Trevor Campbell*.

So… here we are in the midst of an economic meltdown. It’s hard to read the papers without feeling jittery and depressed. And I think it’s safe to say that the market for new PR hires is tighter than it was six months ago. Not only that there are fewer opportunities, hiring freezes and potential layoffs.

So what can a job-seeker do?

I still believe you should still follow the advice I offered here and here.

But I would like to add a few more thoughts to the mix:

1. Be curious. Find out about the world around you; experience it. In Toronto, the AGO has just reopened, so pay a visit; watch the latest films (indie and mass); wander along Bloor Street during Nuit Blanche; volunteer for a not-for-profit you believe in; read a book by Malcolm Gladwell (or anyone for that matter)… Becoming a business/pop culture/political/ economics/tech/entertainment/food/fashion/beauty/etc. expert is an essential when you’re in PR. Make yourself stand out.

2. Add social media to your skill set. Get to know the latest developments and offerings. Learn how to use RSS in media searches. Participate in industry communities. Set up a profile on Linkedin. Sign up for Twitter. Blog. Read PR blogs, post smart comments and build relationships with people you respect and admire. Listen to podcasts. Watch videos. And be critical. Understand that social media isn’t the cure-all to every PR challenge. And when you start working, maintain the self-study and share your findings with colleagues. Every office needs a few social media gurus – who also grasp the intricacies of traditional PR.

3. Above all, don’t get discouraged. The soft economy is NOT your fault. It’s affecting all of us and is out of our control. There is a great job out there for you. Don’t beat yourself up if it takes a little longer than you’d planned to find it.

*BTW, Trevor is president of Porter Novelli Canada and has just started his blog; I’m looking forward to reading it.


4 thoughts on “So you wanna work in PR – in an economic downturn

  1. It is hard to stand out when employers get hundreds of resumes. I was recently responsible for hiring a Communications Coordinator. I received hundreds of resumes – from the over qualified, to the under qualified. One thing I noticed (and perhaps it is because I am overly obsessed with the http://WWW...) is that very few job hunters use the web to their advantage. They use it to SEARCH, but not to promote themselves. I searched every resume for a website, a portfolio, even just a link to their profile on LinkedIn. Out of over 300 resumes I believe I saw 2 or 3 with websites.

  2. Good points, Martin. While it may be tougher to get a job given the economy, SM offers new ways that make it simpler to connect and impress. The key is to know what you want to write, know who you’re writing to and then write it well. So blog, comment, twitter, understand how it all fits into the PR/marketing mix and you should be good to go.

  3. Thank you for the advice Martin! I am currently going through the job search myself, and it’s so frustrating. I keep losing out on really great jobs to people who have 2-3 years of expereince over me (I’m just starting out my career). It’s really nice to get advice from those who are in the industry, so thank you!

  4. Thanks for your comments. Michelle and Trevor, you make an excellent point about utilizing the web for self-development and promotion. I think it’s also a good tool for professional development, too – i.e. connecting and exchanging ideas with a variety of people; building your network.All the best with your search, Neen.

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