Skills for Your First Job in PR / by Ellie McGarvey

I was disappointed to not have a job upon graduation. After a few months of frustrating job interviews, advertised as PR – but really sales jobs – I was aggravated and felt like I would have to settle for a job I didn’t want. When I finally interviewed at Food Shelter I thought, “Whoa, this is an ACTUAL PR job and I want it. I hope they hire me!” Now, six months after joining FSPR as an Assistant Account Executive, I have learned some crucial lessons on what skills are essential to succeeding in PR. 



First, and most importantly, be excited about what you do. Of course, learning the ins and outs of a new job comes with many frustrating moments. It may take longer to master some skills than others. Passion helps to push yourself forward and brings you to a better place in your work, both in quality and upward mobility for future opportunities. It is that moment of pure pride when you land a media placement or complete a difficult project. Without passion, it will be difficult to excel in any job, so find something you truly enjoy. 


Attention to Detail 

A critical lesson I’ve learned is that PR requires a great deal of attention to detail. Always double-check your spelling and grammar, no matter what sized task you are working on. Small typos can make a big difference; carve out time for multiple proofreading sessions. When you feel like you are in a time crunch, check in with supervisors to let them know. They likely will prefer that you take the time to check for mistakes rather than send in work that is sloppily done.


Time Management 

Juggling projects and clients is the reality in PR. Prioritization is fundamental, and with that comes the need for time management skills. I often work off of two to-do lists – one handwritten and the other online - that way I have visuals at all times of what needs to be done and when. Time management also means limiting procrastination. If you are wasting time, it usually means you do not know how to or are afraid to tackle the next big task – so ask some questions and get moving. Budgeting time to fit in last-minute tasks is helpful in being successful with all assignments.  



It is important to think of new, creative ways to capture an audience – finding ways to think outside the box while also keeping up with industry trends. Speaking up and sharing ideas is all a part of the creative process. When you can bounce ideas back and forth with a co-worker, it is easier to develop a successful idea rather than struggling to come up with something by yourself.  Collaboration and teamwork help influence creativity and expand a simple idea into an effective one.