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How to Prepare for Your First Public Relations Interview

Are you a Marketing professional who has landed a job interview for your first Public Relations (PR) position? The world of PR is fast-paced, and there’s never a dull moment. Marketing and PR are very closely related, as both industries aim to sell products and services to the public. PR’s goal is to sell a brand through positively managing the communications channels between stakeholders, media, and companies, and marketing campaigns drive revenue. PR professionals try to create a favorable reputation for companies through effective PR strategies.

If you want to work in PR, know that you’ll be wearing many hats. You’ll have a passion for media, writing, and meeting new people every day. You’ll organize interviews between your clients and the media. You’ll also write press releases and pitches about your clients’ products and services, and usually, there’s a lot of teamwork involved.

Jobs in PR are always exciting, and while it’s the type of industry that becomes significantly more involved as you move up the chain, you’re on your toes from the moment you step into the office for the first time. If you’re anxious about an upcoming PR job interview, no matter the role, there are a few ways to prepare to feel confident. Let’s look at what those are.

Familiarize Yourself with Current Events

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If you don’t watch or read the news every day, you’re going to want to change that habit immediately. You need to know what’s happening in the world as a PR professional. Is the position for a graphic design company? Not only should you research current visual design trends and know what culture blogs to check out, but you should also know about the political climate worldwide. What are the best national newspapers? Who is the current editor of the New York Times Fashion page? Everything is important, and nothing is irrelevant. You’ll want to know which media to pitch stories to and who to avoid. You’ll quickly learn to become a news enthusiast of all sorts, and it will become part of your daily routine.

An interviewer might ask you direct questions about current news, and you’ll need to be prepared. Alternatively, they’ll be impressed if you slip in a piece of news or mention a recent article by a prominent journalist as you answer the interview questions.

Know Your Media

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While it’s crucial to know what’s happening locally and worldwide, it’s even more important to know who’s who in the media. Suppose you’re new to the PR game. In that case, you may not have the resources to bring in a long list of people from the media that you know personally (reporters, photographers, TV, and radio hosts). Still, it’s crucial to demonstrate that you’re aware of media personalities and that you’re willing to learn more.

Two of the essential skills for a person working in PR are communication and being highly interpersonal. Your job is to build close relationships with members of the media because you become partners with one another. If you’re pitching an idea about organic dog food, you’ll need to know who to pitch it to, and to make it as enticing as you can. If you write a 200-word email pitch to a reporter specializing in technology, the chances of them reading the second line of an email about dog food are very slim. You need to know why you’re talking to this person.

Over time, you’ll get to know individual media personalities. It will become more comfortable for you to communicate ideas about your products and services because sometimes, these people will become your friends.

Your interviewer will, without a doubt, ask you about your experiences with media and if you’ve ever managed a media list. A media list is a spreadsheet that all PR people hold onto for dear life. It’s a document containing all of the names, phone numbers, work addresses, and emails of everyone in their media database. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work directly on a media list, let the interviewer know that you’re familiar with what it is and recognize its profound importance to any organization.

Practice Your Writing

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Starting a PR career involves a lot of administrative work: spreadsheets, making reports, and more. It also consists of a lot of standing around at events. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Well, those parts might not be the most stimulating, but there is also a lot of writing involved, once you pay your initial employee dues. PR writing is very similar to advertising or copywriting because the intention is to sell something. Media pitching is a skill that requires deep research and the ability to write something punchy and concise within a short amount of words.

For example, if you work at your city’s symphony and need to fill seats for an upcoming show, and effective promotion technique is to put your guest conductor on the morning news. By emailing your contact at the news channel and pitching an interview with the conductor, more people will learn about the show and potentially buy tickets. The best pitches have a specific angle. If you discover that the conductor has a cat, why not focus on pets and get the morning news show to bring in some feline friends for the segment?

A press release takes days — and sometimes weeks — to draft and edit.  A press release for a company must appeal to the general public, media, and stakeholders. It’s a skill that takes a lot of practice.

Before your interview, read through the company’s press releases online to get a sense of its tone and voice. You can also deliver a few pitch ideas about the company when they ask why you want the position, to show them that you’ve done your homework.

If you’re exceptionally nervous about the interview, one of the best ways to prepare is to consult with professional headhunters. Check out Iqpartners.com to talk to professional recruiters and access exciting job opportunities in marketing and more.

The most effective way to prepare for your upcoming interview is to educate yourself about the industry. Read the news, be aware of current media personalities, practice your writing skills, and consult with someone who can help hone your skills. You’ll be writing stellar press releases in no time.

About Ronald Lamumbe

Ronald Lamumbe

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