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Back to the Basics 101


By Kate Greenberg '04

Published Oct 1, 2006 12:00 AM

For current Bruins and alumni alike, a social science degree can be a great launching pad for numerous fields, including, in my case, public relations. Yet while it may seem obvious, many aspiring business professionals haven't covered the basics before applying for a job or internship. By taking advantage of available campus and industry resources, I won a position at Weber Shandwick, one of the top PR firms in the world. My success in landing a job in the field I wanted is the result of the people, resources and practical counsel that prepared me to enter my chosen profession. Here are some of the basic dos and don'ts that helped me. They can help you, too, no matter where your career takes you.

Know your market.

Demonstrating intimate knowledge of the players and the rules of the game in the city in which you work is essential, not just for landing a job, but for doing it well. In my field, for example, entertainment media reigns supreme in Los Angeles. So there are many PR agencies that specialize in publicity and show-business media relations. Most consumer, lifestyle and general business media are based in New York, because that's where those industries are centered; San Francisco is home to numerous technology media outlets for the same reason. If you're looking for work in PR in these towns, those are the fields you need to do homework on if you're going to make it. The point is, not all markets are created equal.

Know your field.

You'd be surprised at how few people do basic homework before they interview. Don't just compile a list of contacts and firms. Make sure you know the problems the people in your chosen field tackle every day. And especially, make sure you know what they actually do. My career has barely started, but I'm already tired of interviewing intern candidates who don't have the faintest idea what PR professionals actually do (which is build relationships with media to secure coverage for clients and develop strategic programs to pique the interest of the media). I hear "I want to be in advertising" a lot. Well, that's not PR, and they ought to apply at an ad agency.