Starting a career in PR can be a difficult journey to navigate for new professionals trying to break into the industry.
Whether you’re looking to jump in as an intern or work your way straight into an account team, you’ll quickly find yourself competing in a fierce job market. With thousands of recent (and not-so-recent) grads applying for open positions, it has become typical for companies to raise their standards and expectations of the employees they bring into their PR teams. After all, a strong communications team is the key to successfully developing and maintaining a brand’s image.
From managing media relations to identifying new business opportunities and raising brand awareness, PR teams are essential components for all companies looking to build a notable reputation. Companies and agencies alike are not just looking for anyone to fill the position. They’re looking for the ideal candidate that can effectively strategize, execute and deliver results.
So what does it take to be a top-notch candidate?
I sat down with Melanie Lombardi, Account Director at LEWIS PR, to find out what she looks for when hiring an ideal PR account team member. Read her responses below:
What do you look for in a successful Account Coordinator?
During an interview, the candidate should show personality, drive and be honest in their answers. I look for someone that delivers unique responses and is not thrown off by what may seem to be a strange interview question, for example, “If you had to choose, what kind of drink would you be?”
Also, while we don’t necessarily expect our Account Coordinator candidates to be fluent in technology, we do hope that they will be able to demonstrate their interest in tech by telling us about industry publications, new companies or tech trends that they are following. Showing interest in what a company or agency focuses on is always a BIG plus, regardless of industry.
What are the top three skills a candidate should develop before applying for a PR job?
The ideal applicant should be organized, resourceful and must have strong writing skills.
What type of qualities do you look for in an account team member?
It’s important to enjoy the company of the team you’re working with. If you’re looking to become a team member, you should be able to make and take a joke. He/she should enjoy spending time working in a team environment, and should also be open to hanging out with co-workers after hours and engage in fun banter when appropriate. Being willing to listen and learn from other team members can also be of great value for someone new to the field.
What are some qualities that might make you reject a candidate?
Lack of “spark”, or enthusiasm, and answers to questions that feel canned or rehearsed. Candidates should answer questions with their own personal touch. If an interview question presents a challenge, try to spin it so that it plays well in your favor and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Another pet peeve is lack of eye contact.
What are some activities and tasks a PR team member might experience in their role?
An Account Coordinator, for example, is constantly on the go and learning the ins-and-outs of media relations every day. He/she is responsible for coordinating press tours, researching media contacts and opportunities, pitching speaker opportunities and assisting with industry analyst relations. Further, he/she monitors the media for breaking news, participating in brainstorms and planning sessions and generating daily news scans. Tracking and presenting client coverage, creating coverage reports about press clippings and PR activities, generating briefing books and developing media kits are all integral to this position as well. It’s a busy job but it’s a greatly valued role and is the stepping-stone to becoming a senior member of the PR team.
If you are interested in learning more about Account Coordinators or are looking to apply for an Account Management position, visit the LEWIS PR jobs page for more information. We are currently hiring in our San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and Washington DC offices and are looking for professionals with a passion for technology and a knack for PR.
Stay tuned for the next post of PR Jobs 101 for more tips on launching your career in PR!