I recently received this email from a reader and it struck me that some of the questions she asks are still pertinent even now after 3 years in “the business.” I will try to answer her questions below but if anyone else thinks they have a better take on it, I’d appreciate your comments.

Hi Mr. Oakley,

My name is Divya Kumar and I’m currently doing my Masters in Mass Communication from University of Leicester. I’ve been trying to figure out a career move and now have to decide between either PR or Marketing Communications. I was doing a bit of research when I came across your blog, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I hope you don’t mind me mailing you for PR based career pointers.

I currently live across the pond in Seattle and I just began to look for work related to communications. The abundance in career options has drained my enthusiasm to be honest. I finally chose PR and Marketing Communications because of my interpersonal skills and interests in media and marketing.

Here are my questions:

How do I know PR is for me?

What would be the best way to start a career in PR?

Should I start by doing an internship or trying for a full time position?

What according to your experience are the most important skill sets a PR person must have?

I look forward to hearing you.

Blog on!

Kind Regards,

Divya Kumar

OK, 1: How do I know PR is for me? – You don’t know, until you’ve been doing it for a while but if you like reading, like the news, like talking and listening to people and don’t mind working very hard for very little money then you might well enjoy PR. I think there’s something of the speech writer inside most PR people in that we like seeing our words on the page or the screen and don’t mind that they’re attributed to someone else.

2: What would be the best way to start a career in PR (and 3: Internship / full time position.) I’m not the best person to ask about this, I got a full time position but I didn’t have the choice of an internship, I needed to be earning. I’d be interested to hear what people who did get internships think.

4: Skill Sets: Writing and face to face communication are key. You also need to be flexible and willing to get stuck in, PR is not a 9 to 5. Every agency seems to be different and you have to be able to cope with that as well as different requirements of different journalists. You have to be able to form relationships quickly – the average length of time a journalist is in post is about 15 months so you don’t have long to get on their radar. I’d also say that you have to “get” the internet and web 2.0 etc… though I doubt every MD of every PR agency would say that yet. You have to be willing to learn when someone knows more than you, have strength of convictions when you know more than them, and have the perspective to be able to tell the deference. I could go on…

That should be enough to get started – any comments?