According to the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Global Communications Report, the public relations industry grew 30% in 2017, indicating that for those interested in pursuing a career in PR, there’s no time like the present.

Public relations is a multifaceted industry that welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests. Whether at an agency or an “in-house” corporate setting, creative, strategic, and passionate communicators can find myriad opportunities in the industry. In addition to long-standing facets of PR such as crisis communications and media relations, social media and other online platforms are providing new avenues for professionals to hone their skills and make a difference for their clients. Now more than ever, through education, networking, and real-world experience, people with a passion for communications can successfully launch a career in the industry.

Employers in the PR industry look for an array of skills when seeking new staff members. According to USC’s report, PR executives feel the skills most critical to their business’ success are strategic planning, written communications, and social media.

Important Skills

One solid option for gaining a broad set of the communications skills that industry leaders look for is through higher education. Many public relations firms look for new hires to have a Bachelor’s degree in communication, marketing or another related field. College level classes in writing, strategy, journalism or public speaking can lay the groundwork for individuals pursuing a career in the field. Colleges and universities not only provide an academic foundation, but also opportunities for extracurricular involvement. Joining a communications club or leading a community outreach initiative can give individuals the opportunity to learn more about the industry and begin practicing public relations skills.

Joining organizations such as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) or the National Communication Association (NCA) is a great way to gain helpful insights about the industry. Membership in communications-focused organizations can provide access to valuable experiences such as networking events and webinars that explore emerging trends in the industry. Additionally, participation in these organizations can help to expand your network of communications professionals and get you connected with industry leaders.

One of the most effective ways to launch a career in PR is through the direct experience afforded by internships, apprenticeships, and volunteer opportunities. Most colleges and universities host internship or job fairs and have staff available to help in the search for opportunities. Also, volunteering at a local nonprofit in need of communications support can provide a great opportunity to turn newly-acquired skills into action.

As the tools we use to communicate evolve, so too does the public relations industry. PR employers are constantly on the lookout for dedicated and skilled individuals who can deliver value and help clients reach their communications goals. A solid set of foundational skills, along with a broad network of peers, and some real-world experience can help launch a successful, rewarding career in public relations.