What to expect when you hire a PR graduate

After three years of studying a PR degree, I finally made it into PR - but do employers know what to expect from the grads they bring in?

Are PR students ready for the world of work when they graduate? In many ways, yes - says Marcel Klebba
Are PR students ready for the world of work when they graduate? In many ways, yes - says Marcel Klebba

Are we ready to dive into the PR world? Did we need our BA Hons to hit the ground running?

Many prospects, blinded by popular culture products such as Ab Fab, look forward to the glamorous lifestyle of Edina and Patsy.

A PR degree has a good ring to it. Many hope that it’ll be enough to land – and flourish in – their job.

But PR is a competitive industry and we’re expected to walk into our first roles with the right tools for the job.

Gaining experience is not easy, as there are plenty of us willing to give away our time and efforts for low salaries at intern level (although there are still too many outfits that expect to offer such experience for nothing).

Basics first

Many PR skills are not being taught at university, including one of the basics – managing the avalanche of emails. Few students check emails, even mid-course, other than their Facebook chat.

Moreover, the PR world is fast-paced. Client briefs come in and need to go out swiftly. I remember having plenty of time for most of the assignments. I’ve also had two part-time jobs and met all the deadlines.

I’ve graduated with a first. Let’s face it – university isn’t preparing for the pace of a workplace.

So I have to pitch to a journalist I’ve never met?

Media relations is a skill that simply isn’t tackled enough. University doesn’t provide many opportunities to get to know journalists and pitch them a story, and projects can be ambiguous – with the media relations element within them sporadic at best.

However, three months in to my career and I’ve been pitching to media on a daily basis.

Each journalist needs a different approach.

This is before we consider that ringing total strangers up to convince them to write about your client can be intimidating when you first start out.

Contextual support

Some proclaim media courses as "Mickey Mouse" but in reality, they give some invaluable insights and wider contextual prep before diving into your first job.

The slower pace of university has its benefits.

We might not be masters of multitasking, but a degree teaches attention to detail, which is essential for PR.

Lecturers emphasise the significance of reading news and the importance that headlines hold.

On top of that, we get to do a fair amount of writing and are encouraged to blog in our spare time.

We might be unpolished. We’ll require training and hands-on experience, but you won’t have to show us how to write a press release, although we might need your guidance on pitching to media.

Marcel Klebba is a junior account executive at M&C Saatchi PR

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