Make yourself exemplary.
The easiest way to set yourself above the status quo is to home in on a specific sector of public relations while developing a broad skill set that will greatly enhance your abilities to do your specific job really well.
To home correctly, find what you like, or know, or would like to know.
Focus on something specific and applicable, i.e. Fashion PR or Fundraiser Event Planning. Something like Social Media is too broad. Unless you plan on becoming a Twitter master, choose an area that is distinctly set apart from the general sphere of public relations.
Now that you have your target area locked in your crosshairs, here is a list of skills to develop that will be an asset not only in your job search, but in your career as well:
- HTML: Understanding the basics of coding and designing online content will push your: resume to the top of the list. Everything is digital now, and having the skills to translate your ideas to actual pixels will not go unnoticed.
- Graphic Design: Much like HTML, being able to alter photos and create vectors to accompany your already capable writing skills will make you a rock star. Having these skills yourself allows you to skip the middle man. Graphic designers are great at what they do, but it will speed up process time if you have a mockup they can work from, or understand the limitations they are working under. Some programs to consider investing time in are Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Lynda.com (link www.lynda.com) has excellent tutorials on all of the aforementioned.
- Social Media: This should go without saying, but take the time to understand how social media really works. Learn the tricks through personal use while building up your online portfolio. Also understanding things like SEO, analytics and other quantifiable web measurements that could go along with your messages will put you one step ahead of the competition.
- Branding: This may seem like more of a marketing tool, but several communication job descriptions are dressed in marketing’s garments. Understanding, and showing that you understand, how to incorporate a consistent brand persona through all of your messages is a huge turn on for employers, especially those with established brand attitudes.
All of the above will certainly set you apart from the pool of capable applicants, but don’t discredit the necessity of strong, clear, concise writing skills. Being able to write in AP style and in a fast pace environment are essentials to any public relations position.
If you do not have strong writing skills, you are not what I referred to as “capable”. That is what you should be learning in the classroom. If you are not, you should reassess your writing assignments and start seeing the value in actually completing them. And completing them well.
Lacey BraunUniversity of Minnesota