Public Relations (PR) Roles

How to hire a graduate for a PR role

Candidate profile

A confident, sociable and communicative individual who is very good at building and managing relationships with people. They should be creative in order to promote businesses and approach clients, and possess strong writing skills in order to write a range of engaging content for clients. An ideal candidate should be able to approach problems originally and create strategies and solutions for maximising positive publicity and public awareness of your company.

A degree in a subject like Science or History will have equipped the candidate with the research skills needed in order to communicate accurately and authoritatively on a subject. Other humanities subjects such as English or a Modern Language will have helped the candidate build up strong communication and research skills.

Top skills

  1. Written & verbal communication: being able to translate ideas into well-written reports
  2. Research & analysis skills: being able to gain an in-depth understanding of topics in order to evaluate solutions
  3. Interpersonal skills: the ability to get along well with others and build relationships
  4. Time management: being able to juggle deadlines and deliver projects on time
  5. Creativity: thinking of out-of-the-box ideas and solutions

Non-office experience

  • If a candidate has taken part in a variety of extracurricular activities throughout their time at university and achieved a high grade then this shows that they possess the great time management and organisational skills necessary for succeeding in the role.
  • Any writing experience such as writing for their university paper or maintaining their own blog is a good indicator. Basic writing and communication skills are essential for a job in PR, most other things can be taught.

Office experience

  • Any interpersonal and client-based experience will have taught the candidate how to communicate appropriately with them and will be beneficial.
  • Practical experience in PR, such as an internship or placement, is incredibly valuable. Not only will the candidate have a good knowledge of the industry and day-to-day workings of a PR role, but they will also know that this is a sector they’d like to pursue.

Green flags

  • Has an interest in and is aware of brands and marketing, and the strategies that these brands take in managing their public image
  • Has their own blog or social media channels (or at least shows an interest in those areas)
  • Is a charismatic and highly-energetic person

Red flags

  • Spelling errors in their application
  • Someone who doesn’t present themselves well
  • A lack of awareness of different methods of communication and poor interpersonal relationships - perhaps someone who is introverted and doesn’t want to spend a high proportion of their time working closely with other people

At interview

  • Since a large part of the PR process is contacting newspapers and magazines, it can be a good idea to set up a role play during the interview to assess the candidate’s verbal skills, as well as to see how quickly they can grasp a new subject and then talk about it.
  • You could ask the candidate to present an idea that you have briefed them on to a 'journalist' to see whether they’d like to cover it in their publication.

Employee expectations

At a graduate level role in public relations, the salary is expected to be in the range of £16,000-£21,000, usually at an assistant level. Depending upon your company, and which sector of PR the role is in, whether that is ‘Agency’, ‘In-House’ or ‘SME’, the candidate will have different expectations. It is important to set out during the job description and interview stage what aspect of PR the role will be focusing on, as this will be crucial in forming an employee’s expectations both for the role and potential progression in the field.

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