Most professional comment on the PR industry comes from on top. It comes from company directors or owners surveying an industry or sector that they have already conquered. I am a graduate, fighting for my first real agency role and thus, writing this article from a vastly different perspective, looking up at an industry that still towers over me.  This is about the search so far: what has impressed me and what hasn’t, the attitudes I have encountered and the pitfalls into which I have stumbled. 

Pitfall number 1:  Recruitment Agencies.Be careful, recruitment agencies can be a valuable tool but it’s important to do your homework before hand. I made this mistake and ruined my chances with at least 3 agencies before I cottoned on to the fact that all the recruitment agencies were sending in my CVs for the same jobs. I calculated that for the first few months, every PR agency I applied to received between 5 and 7 copies of my CV – obviously this is not good.  There seems to be a lot of sharp practice in the recruitment business, only 2 of the billion or so recruitment agencies that took my CV actually fulfilled the legal requirement to interview me, only one of those interviews was face to face.  

What makes good agencies good? After a half hour interview, all you’ll have to go on is gut feeling, the hard thing is to see through this. PR agencies do reveal a lot about their approach to work in the way that they interview. I’ve had interviews that range from a ten-minute informal chat over coffee to an hour-long grilling in front of a five strong panel and the more the interviews are overtly “styled” the harder it is to see through it all to the substance.  A lot of PR is about judgement and I’ve found it useful to ask “in their situation, how would I interview.” I think the style of interview and its appropriateness can say a lot about the judgement of the agency’s managers and can give you a strong hint as to your suitability.  

What makes the bad agencies bad? Interviews can also tell you a lot about the agency’s focus, for me PR has to be about the clients, if the interview seems to focus on the agency then it’s a big turn off. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be a pretty clear line between those who focus on results and those who focus on process, In a recent interview, the interviewer talked quite a lot about “the way we do things.” This is a bit of a bugbear phrase for me. If each client has different needs, how can one modus operandi work? 

I haven’t yet found the role that I’ve been chasing but I have managed to use the experience of the chase to teach me just a little bit about the industry in which I want to pursue my career.  I honestly don’t know how it will affect my next position but I’m hopeful that having a bit of a broader understanding of what goes on out there will leave me in good stead for the future.