There are few things public relations companies value more than experience. In a field so heavily based on hands-on practice, and previous job and internship experiences, you might find yourself struggling to land that first position without prior industry involvement. This vicious cycle can be broken, though, much more simply than you think.
As a college student, you’re likely exposed to various unconventional public relations opportunities that you might not even be aware of. In addition to joining nationally renowned PR-specific clubs – such as PRSSA – become involved with on-campus clubs pertaining to extracurricular activities that interest you – if they have a public relations team, even better! They don’t have a PR team? Start one by creating something as simple as a Twitter or Facebook account for the club, where you can post meeting times and upcoming activities, or other relevant content. Engage with and gain followers with interactive posts.
Perhaps you have a hobby that doesn’t have a club; take advantage of that. Start a WordPress or Tumblr, and post content consistently. Link it to your other social media, and have your friends share your insight. Creating a unique blog does not necessarily secure you a job, but it could distinguish you from a competitor. Additionally, having a respectable online presence would be beneficial.
Another way to become involved is reaching out to companies to see if they have campus brand ambassadors. Oftentimes, larger companies will have tools and materials they use for promotional purposes. Simply passing these things out on campus and representing the brand can prove helpful; the company gains a presence on campus while you gain PR experience.
You can stray from campus to get involved, as well. Interested in entertainment or music PR? Various companies, media conglomerates, and record labels offer street team opportunities where you can promote artists, album releases, and concerts in the area. This type of involvement is much more hands-on than other traditional practices, as you’ll be consistently interacting with consumers. Hanging posters, passing out fliers, attending shows with promo materials, and other “missions” are common with street team work. Similar to being a brand ambassador, this involvement is mutually beneficial as well.
These are just a few simple, unique ways to gain experience that will set you apart from other applicants, and hopefully help you break into the field with that first internship.