I recently came across your blog, and I’m obsessed! All of the articles I’ve read are incredibly helpful as a college student hoping to work in public relations. I have an interesting dilemma though that I’d love to have covered.
I went into college undecided. I never found a possible major that I felt truly passionate about. Once I became involved on campus, however, I fell in love with PR. Throughout my various positions in student government, Greek life, and philanthropic organizations, I know that PR is the way for me to go.
The issue is, my school doesn’t actually offer a public relations program, only a communications major with an unofficial concentration track in public relations. Because of financial aid, current connections, and the amount of credits I already have, it isn’t a possibility for me to transfer schools. How can I maximize my experience in PR and still come out of school as an employable option without having officially majored in public relations?
So happy to hear you’ve found your passion. Don’t focus too much on your major not being in PR. The good news is that you definitely don’t have to transfer or be a PR major in order to be successful in this career. If the communications major isn’t interesting you much, consider marketing or journalism. All three of these majors are valuable to a career in PR.
When interviewing, your major doesn’t matter as much as your experience does. Shift your resume to be focused on PR and show examples of how what you have done thus far relates to PR. Network with fellow peers interested in PR and take a PR internship to build your resume.
Meet Teddie of COLLECTIVE. She grew up in a foreign service family, moving around every 3-4 years always adapting to meet new people, explore new places. Teddie moved to NYC to study communications at NYU and has been in the city ever since. Having worked at many of the top agencies in the city, she started her own agency COLLECTIVE in 2012. She loved the nature of the work but not always the part about having a boss! Her and her partner, Nicole, worked together for a couple of years and decided to make the leap to start to get their own clients.. working on projects that they had a vested interest in and an ability to help friends on their new ventures…then COLLECTIVE was born!
How did you get started in public relations?
I started in fashion PR at Diesel right out of NYU…running the sample room and learning the ropes. I always knew I wanted to be involved in shaping brand messaging, in helping brands with their public profiles to project the right image and gain the appropriate following to reach their goals. Working in house is a great way to learn but I love to work on many things at once so having clients with different goals and in different markets makes the job more dynamic, challenging and ultimately fun and rewarding.
When and how did you decide to start your own firm?
I think I always knew I wanted to work for myself… my childhood of moving around sometimes made it difficult for me to stay in one place for too long — I tended to get antsy working for other people, not really controlling my schedule or choosing my clients. Having Collective allows me to travel more and work at my own pace. My business partner and I were in a place where we both were ready to leave our jobs and we thought, why not go out on our own? We knew we worked well together and it just made sense. We had one meeting while we were still working in different places where we told a potential client about our plans- they said- we will hire you today if you resign and voila, we had our first client and we gave our 2 weeks notice.
What is your average day like?
This is a hard one because I think there really is no average day in this business! Usually starts with a lot of coffee and good music in the office. We work a lot with hospitality clients so we are always visiting our clients hotels, restaurants and bars to see what’s new and to stay as involved with each as possible. There’s always some pitching involved, some days more than others depending on what we are working on. Lots of phone calls- often (trying) to be the voice of reason when emotions are running high and always reminding people to look at the full picture. Usually ends with a dinner/ drinks date to entertain media, show off one of our clients or just to catch up with colleagues and friends.
What’s the best part of working in public relations?
PR is really about working with people- knowing who your audience is and being able to adapt whether speaking to the media or to a client – I love the exploration- getting to know a client and their goals and figuring out how to get them there. It is also really satisfying to be able to help friends and colleagues with their ventures… I’m lucky to have some really creative and talented friends and I like to think of myself as the business voice in their head. I love being involved in so many different industries and never having a dull moment.
What’s the best PR advice you ever received?
Work smarter not harder. I actually think that was advice that an 8th grade teacher gave me and it really applies to everything! I hated the days when it felt like it was a competition as to who could stay at the office later and be the martyr. No thanks. I would rather be efficient and have a life too!
Any advice for those looking to get into PR?
Being a media/culture consumer is a good start- you really have to enjoy reading/ watching/ googling and generally being curious. Also, be nice to people! I think people forget this one. Some common sense and being a considerate, nice person gets you a lot further then people think. I always say.. kill ’em with kindness.
Thank you for providing me with PR guidance and inspiration over the years. It is because of your blog that I took the PR route. I am forever grateful.
I try to take advantage of the many networking and professional development opportunities provided to me by my school and community. Detroit is thriving and I am proud to be a millennial in the Motor City.
With my last semester just around the corner, I understand it is important that I get the most experience whether that be internship or volunteer etc. What I am the most confused and flustered over is in which industry I want to work in. Do I want to work for one of the Big Three auto manufacturers? What about in an agency setting? Do I want to work with consumer brands? I have no clue!
Please help me find some ways to help me find my industry niche.
Finding your niche isn’t always as easy as you think it would be. The good news is that you have plenty of time to find what interests you most so don’t get too flustered or worried. With your last semester, use it as an chance to take any opportunity you can. Whether it be in-house or at an agency. If you take an internship in-house at an automotive brand and don’t find yourself loving it, apply for agency positions after you graduate. Think about what interests you personally. Do you have a passion for automotive brands? Food brands? Maybe corporate PR interests you?
The major difference between working in-house versus an agency is the number of brands you will work on. Generally in-house, you’re focused on one brand. In an agency setting, you will likely work on multiple brands varying from tech to home to beauty depending on the agency. Follow your gut to begin with and use it as a test trial. After several months (sometimes it takes years), you will eventually find what you’re most passionate about and want to focus on.