Public Relations Research: My Unique Career Path
Editor's Note: The original version of this post appeared on Culpwrit.com.
Most college graduates move home after graduating with a communications degree. Why? To save money, right? Like me, most students don’t get the big break internship that sets them up for a job right after graduation. I was among this “elite” group of hard-working scholars who moved home to adapt to the real career world of communications. One job application after another resulted in rejection after rejection. Thoughts start to creep into one’s head, “Maybe I’m one of those strong communicators who never adapt.” Instead of giving up, I decided a change of occupational trajectory was needed and started looking further into different avenues of communication careers. As a graduate with a focus in journalism, the decision to venture into the marketing and public relations fields was cloudy. But through the storm emerged public relations research.
At first glance, public relations seemed “unconventional” to someone whose major focus was journalism. My perception of public relations agencies stemmed from two college courses I took to support my overall communications requirements.
I began by identifying my career objectives. Here’s the short list of what I wanted:
- Opportunity for substantial growth with a category leader.
- Working with senior corporate communicators in the communication departments of large corporations.
- Contributing to projects with tight deadlines (just like I was taught as a journalism major).
- *MOST IMPORTANTLY: Working closely hands-on with management in a team-based environment to foster learning and experience.
I read a job post at PRIME Research, which met three of my four career goals. PRIME, a part of Cision, is a global public relations research company combining talent and technology to provide high-quality research and advisory services to many of the world’s top companies and most respected brands. The last step was to visit the office to evaluate the work environment.
When I arrived for my interview and tour, the human resources staff took the time to show me the prospective workspace. And as for signs of a collaborative environment, future co-workers greeted me as if I was already part of the team.
The interview process was more “down to earth” than I expected. The questions centered on my desire and drive for the work rather than technical skills. This created a comfortable space for me to open up about my career passions and goals, which PRIME wanted to help me achieve.
As a recent communications graduate, PRIME offered an opportunity to learn and grow within the established team culture. The comradery among fellow analysts and managers changed my perception about public relations. As a growing PR research company, PRIME offers an innovative work environment where everybody’s ideas are thoughtfully considered. All facets of the company are evolving; nothing is close-ended, static or repetitive.
One year ago, I accepted the Hybrid Analyst position at PRIME Research. My responsibilities include analyzing news articles and social media posts pertaining to specific clients, their competitors and their industry environment. To meet clients’ demand for up-to-the-minute intelligence and insights each day, we deconstruct traditional and social media content to identify the presence of intended and unintended coverage. In this way, “content” is transformed into “data” which can be reconstructed to spot — and even predict — emerging trends in corporate and brand reputation. The data is analyzed in aggregate to provide our interpretive analysis, uncover actionable insights and provide strategic guidance through informal ad hoc client conversations or in formal monthly and quarterly reports. With one year of experience, I’ve helped global Fortune 1000 clients navigate potential crises, enable more successful campaigns and improve their public relations performance over time, versus competitors.
The flexibility and work environment are nice but not too comfortable. My career journey has not peaked: Strong initiative and ownership of my responsibilities are creating opportunities for career development and personal growth. Working hands-on with managers, experienced analysts and even the CEO has accelerated my experience level and opened new opportunities. Stepping outside the box, putting myself out there for new tasks and generating ideas to help the company grow are what drives me every day.
My purpose in writing this essay is to encourage others to be bold when considering a career in communication. As you consider your new career path, I’m happy to share what I learned … maybe you can learn from my experience:
- Have an open mind/be adaptive: I can’t imagine where I would be without this unforeseen opportunity. Take a different perspective and try something new. Take that assignment when you have no experience and persevere!
- Do not be invisible, reach out to new possibilities: This applies to the career search process as well. Do something others might be reluctant to do. I never thought I would have the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of my company and write this for you. I reached out for his help and here we are.
- Build comradery with managers/co-workers/upper management: I was lucky and found myself in a situation where the culture was already this way, but some companies are not. Maybe you can bring that change. Create a strong bond of solid communication between you and the company network
- Look for growth, do not settle: Try not to remain static in your everyday work endeavors. Ask your managers for new tasks. I always let my managers know I wish to sit in on client meetings, so I can understand what is going on, and why we conduct certain procedures the way we do
As a result of this approach and a positive attitude, I was recently accepted into the company’s management training program.
The field of communication is very diverse and there are tons of final destinations and infinite opportunities for prospective candidates just starting out. Try not to have a linear mindset. As the great poet Robert Frost once said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference.”
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