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So, You Want to Be a PR Practitioner?

Insight on what it will take

I must first preface this post by saying that I have by no means “arrived,” nor do I have PR all “figured out,” as both of these are a continuous battle. However, over the course of my years in the industry, I have been asked numerous times by aspiring PR practitioners, “how did you get to where you are today?” or “how do I go about getting a job in PR?”…

…Some of these inquiries have been from people, like me, who do not necessarily have a lot of experience in PR, or even marketing in general. I’ve already written about the things to consider when applying for a job in PR, but in this post, I’d like to give some insight from a person who graduated in PR with little experience, landed an internship for a top national PR firm and has since climbed to a senior level positions in a considerably short period of time, with results to boot.

Go the Extra Mile
Having played three years of collegiate baseball, which occupied my entire summers, internships were not an option. Heading into my last semester at Purdue University, I had barely enough marketing/PR experience to qualify to represent my dad’s family marble and tile company. Stumbling upon a contest through Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts for a handful of job shadowing opportunities, I submitted my argument on why I should be selected to the only relevant job on the list. With no real intention of winning, I received an email from the president of the College a couple days later letting me know my submission had won. With that, I was off to an afternoon of job shadowing at BLASTmedia.

After an eye-opening day at BLAST (eye-opening in the sense that I realized I didn’t know much about PR), I was hooked. An ever-changing, exciting job with a lot of young, talented and ambitious people — it was too good to be true. I decided to write a letter to the company thanking them for their time and letting them know that I would love to work for a company such as BLAST. Unbeknownst to me, my letter was forwarded to the CEO, who promptly told the head of interns to get me back in for a possible spring semester internship. After rearranging my entire class schedule, I accepted the internship, working two full days every week. Wow, I never knew I could learn so much in just a few months.

Knowing My Strengths
Remembering that I had basically no experience coming into my internship, I stuck to one of my strengths — knowing how to work hard. It seems a little cliché or old school to say, but I believe it has become a seemingly lost quality or character trait within today’s society. Knowing that I only had a few months to prove myself, I got right to work, doing anything and everything BLAST would allow me to do.

Beginning with making PDF clips of some of the client coverage, I eventually worked up to helping do a bit of pitching on a couple of our consumer accounts. All the while, I studied the clients, clients’ competitors, clients’ industries and the PR space in general. If this was going to be my career, I wanted to equip myself with as much knowledge as possible while I was at the internship. At the end of the semester all of the hard work and effort paid off, with BLAST offering me a full-time PR specialist position.

Proving Myself
Having been one of the few people I knew who graduated with not only a job, but with a job in my degree speciality, I was happier than a pig in mud. However, I knew the journey to becoming a good PR practitioner had just begun. Taking my internship experience in the consumer products arena, I jumped over to the B2B (business-to-business) PR side with my first client, 3Tera. Knowing absolutely nothing about grid and utility computing, which later spawned cloud computing, I once again returned to my strength — hard work. Studying everything that I could get my hands on, we helped take 3Tera from being covering sporadically on tiny, grid computing industry blogs, to being regulars on Forbes, Businessweek, InformationWeek, CIO, etc., and eventually acquired by CA Technologies in early 2010. I had helped take a company from startup to acquisition — a dream of many of our entrepreneur clients.

So What Does It All Mean to You?
Now having worked with numerous clients in all different industries, garnering coverage in nearly every major media outlet, and now helping expand our B2B PR team with my incredibly talented partner in crime, Sabrina Cook, I now look back on my path and think, “who’s next?” No matter what some industry “experts” want people to believe, PR and social media are alive and well. However, what I am seeing when I sit in on interviews, help train an intern or simply meet an aspiring PR practitioner is a seemingly lack of hard work and initiative…

If you want to be successful in PR, or anything for that matter, you’re going to have to learn how to work hard and take the initiative. Yes, you’ll need good written and verbal communication skills, and a knowledge of the chosen industry landscape, but you must start with a solid base.

Here at BLAST, we are looking for top-notch B2B PR talent, but people unwilling to work hard need not apply. We take extreme pride in the results we help drive for our clients and hope that some potential job applicants reading this do as well. If you’re up for the challenge, please submit your résumé to IndyJobs(at)BLASTmedia(dot)com. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

More Stories By Ryan Greives

I am the senior public relations specialist at cleverbridge, a proven leader in global subscription billing technology, services and expertise. I lead the development, execution and measurement of the global PR and social media strategy. Prior to cleverbridge, I was vice president of BLASTmedia’s B2B Practice Group, providing strategic counsel, while driving tactical execution for a diverse range of clients. I led some of the agency’s largest campaigns, conducted launch campaigns for numerous startups and helped many emerging brands build their profile. Working with a wide variety of companies at all stages of growth, I have managed client strategy and messaging for clients such as 3Tera (acquired by CA in 2010), Bluelock, iGoDigital (acquired by ExactTarget in 2012), Code 42 Software, Tanita, NuCurrent, Woopra, Gordano, Ontario Systems and Mi Media (FRA: 8MK).

You can connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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