The career of a Public Relations executive is dynamic, ever-changing, and never dull or monotonous. As far as careers go, it is considered one of the most prestigious and well-paying ones. However, that doesn’t mean that working in PR is a never-ending party.
There aren’t endless brunches and lunches, nor are there bottomless expense budgets for you to travel across the world. With that being said, PR is still a lucrative career option, especially if you are interested in having a high-flying media career.
Before we dive in to answer your question of how to launch your career in PR, let’s first understand if it is a suitable career option for you.
Is PR the Right Career Option for you?
To answer this question, you’ll first need to understand that PR is all about communicating with audiences and the gatekeepers that access these audiences. This means that you’ll have to be passionate about communication and media-related tasks like attending events, calling professionals in your network, planning and strategizing your communication plan, etc.
Apart from these skills, it is also better if you have an extroverted personality as you’ll be communicating with various people in the course of your average workday. To make it a PR executive, you will also need to be a quick thinker who can handle themselves in high-pressure or crises. If you’re easily intimidated by such situations, a career in PR may not be for you.
If you’re passionate about the creative side of the media industry, you can look at a career as a copywriter, scriptwriter, content marketer, graphic designer, motion graphics artist, art director, or content strategist. Alternatively, if your real passion lies on the technical side, you could pursue a career in augmented reality, media planning, innovations, or even in pure science-based fields.
You may have thought to yourself, ‘how much do PR professionals in India make?’. So, let’s talk about the remuneration PR professionals receive. According to this crowdsourced salary tool, an entry-level PR executive makes an average of ₹297,459 annually.
By the time an executive gains four years of experience in the industry, they draw an average of ₹411,745 per year, which grows to ₹779,610 annually by the time they have a total experience of 6-9 years. Seasoned professionals with over a decade of expertise reportedly earned an average of ₹1,029,126 annually.
After gaining sufficient expertise in the industry, you will be well-equipped with the skills required to branch out as a freelancer, if you choose to do so. To know how to become a PR freelancer in India, check out our article here.
How to Launch Your Career in PR in India
1. Start With The Right Education
After you finish with your 12th-grade examinations, you can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media, Journalism, or even Mass Communications. These undergraduate education streams will equip you with a core foundation in subjects like communications, consumer behaviour, sociology, media theory, digital advertising, etc.
It goes without saying that the right Bachelor’s degree will help you develop a keen understanding of how the industry works and will also equip you with the skills needed to thrive in it.
If you want to make a career within a specific industry sector, it makes sense to pursue a post-graduate diploma that focuses on your interest area. For example, if you want to learn all there is to know about PR, check out MICA and upGrad’s Public Relations M.A. Program to take your skills to the next level. With this program, you can become an expert in social media marketing, content marketing, branding, marketing analysis, and many other skills relevant to the industry.
2. Get The Right Experience
In the last decade, the PR and communication industry has grown. However, landing jobs in the industry has become more difficult without the right experience. Once you graduate and enter the job market, employers will be on the lookout for candidates who impress them with a mix of their theoretical knowledge, as well as their on-ground experience. Needless to say, internships or apprenticeships are the best options for when you’re looking to get substantial work experience. Learn more about the PR skills you need to develop.
In fact, it’s wise to intern when you are in college itself. Not only does this help you apply what you learn in your course, but it also enables you to understand the inner working of the industry. That way, you’ll know what skills you need to develop and what strengths of yours can be enhanced further.
Once you enter the job market, you’ll also have to showcase a portfolio of your projects and work for employers to evaluate. Internships, especially with reputed PR firms and agencies can add value to your portfolio and help you stand out from other candidates.
3. Build Your Professional Network
Like so many other industries, even Public Relations is all about the right connections. This principle applies even when we’re answering the question of how to launch your career in PR. To start off, join groups related to the industry on all social media platforms that you can. There are numerous such groups on LinkedIn and even Facebook.
All you need to do is keep yourself regularly updated with who is frequently posting, who the industry’s thought leaders and trendsetter are, and other important information. By doing so, you’ll also stay up-to-date on the latest news, learn something new and cultivate fruitful professional relationships.
LinkedIn’s Job listings are usually trust-worthy, from reputed organizations, and help you develop new connections within the industry. It’s always a good idea to reconnect with old bosses, professors, your peers, and other industry contacts you may have.
Wherever possible, ask for recommendations from old colleagues and supervisors. These recommendations (especially on LinkedIn) are a permanent way for potential recruiters to see your abilities attested by others.
4. Stay Updated and Be Social-Savvy
This one is quite the no-brainer! One of the most important factors when it comes to building your PR prowess is staying up-to-date with the news, current affairs, and with what’s trending online. As an industry, PR is ever-evolving, and for your work to remain relevant and impactful, it must evolve as well.
The industry that your clients belong to should undoubtedly be one that you’re regularly updated on. However, it pays to be active on social media as it helps you track the latest trends, get the latest information and keep tabs on the competition.
5. Learn to Communicate Effectively
We’ve said this before, and we’ll repeat it – to be a successful and effective PR professional, you must have stellar communication skills. If you aren’t naturally gifted at these skills, it pays to invest in a course that helps. Even a few tutorial videos and self-help books that can strengthen your weak areas are a great idea!
Since you will often be the communication bridge between your client’s end and the media’s end, learn to be straightforward, yet amicable when you pitch, negotiate or work out other details with your professional network.
This will help you develop a positive reputation that will only help you and your clients in the long run. If you aren’t the most patient or polite people, work on building a calmer and more collected demeanour. Understandably, this is a long-drawn process, but the rewards will be huge.
6. Get Better At The Day-to-Day Role’s Duties
All PR agencies don’t function in the same way. Not only do they serve clients in different sectors, but they also have distinct processes when it comes to execution. Additionally, when you have a hands-on responsibility towards a client, you will need to be well-versed in their industry’s basics.
If you have a client who deals with music artists and singers, you will have to acclimatize yourself to the industry. Similarly, if your client is in the IT industry, you’ll have to brush up on your IT vocab so that you can be at your professional best.
Most firms will train you and help you familiarize yourself with the industry and media landscape based on the client portfolio at the organization. However, as always, it won’t hurt to go the extra mile. Tap into your professional network and on social platforms and attend training and workshops to aid your career growth.
While this article can act as a simple guide for those looking for advice on how to launch your career in PR, it is only a thought-starter. To succeed and make it as a PR professional in India, you need to learn and develop skills and competencies that will help you achieve goals for your clients.
If you wish to explore and become a PR expert, check out Mumbai university and upGrad’s Public Relations M.A. Program to take your skills to the next level. With this program, you can become an expert in social media marketing, content marketing, branding, marketing analysis, and PR.