5 things every PR grad should understand

Don’t worry; you will find a job (eventually), especially if you keep these ideas in mind.


Ah, summer.

For many new graduates, the longwinded inspiring graduation speeches and drunken late-night fêtes are over, replaced with the sinking feeling that elicits such thoughts as:

“What the eff did I just learn in the last four years—or was it five—and holy schmoly I think I owe someone (maybe a bank, maybe the government, maybe a Nigerian prince) 20,000 big ones that I can’t pay for with my job at Starbucks. At least I have health insurance and my mom’s couch.”

Sound familiar?

For those of you not in complete denial of the stress that follows the graduation hangover elation, I’m here to tell you: You will find a job. It’s true.

I’m not speaking to you as an economist or an analyst, but rather as a communications pro who has built a thriving business in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

What does that have to do with you, a mere graduate? Well, just about everything. You are standing on a pile of “golden opportunity.” For those of you haters doubters, let me tell you why:

1. You add value to an organization or firm. Do you think all that late-night Facebooking, constant tweeting, nonstop texting, and obsession with trending topics was a waste of time? Think again. If you understand social media at its core, know how to build followings and engage fans, and don’t mind formulating an intelligent opinion, an agency will recognize this as added value. Right now, digital reach is among the most important pieces of the communications puzzle.

2. You are flexible and efficient. Youth is an advantage because of its malleable quality. If you mastered time-management skills in college and were an efficient organizer of your often scattered schedule, you can apply those skills to the highly dynamic and ever-changing world of PR. This adaptability combined with today’s millennial attitude of “mobile me” surely has its place.

3. You are responsive. It’s exceedingly frustrating to work with an outdated colleague—or in an outmoded industry, for that matter—who refuses to accept the reality of our digital, technology-bound, work environment. Because of your tech-savvy generational gifts, your “wired” mentality is a huge plus for an industry that requires responsiveness. Oh, and a word to the wise: Response equals respect. Don’t wait for two hours to respond to that email. I know it came to your smartphone, and I DM’d you about it, too.

4. Your enthusiasm is inspiring. When you get to be my age (because I live in L.A. being in my 30s makes me feel super-duper old) and you’ve endured some of life’s heartbreaks challenges, you tend to lose sight of all of the amazing, inspiring, changing-for-the-good events happening around you. Bringing a positive attitude (bonus trait: sense of humor) into a work environment is one of the reasons the “big guns” will want you around.

5. You are cheap. So, this is one of the moments where my directness can be misread as a little bit inappropriate, but this is 100 percent true: You do have an advantage over that “seasoned” PR manager who demands nearly six figures (and doesn’t have the skills of Nos. 1 through 4 above). You’ll work hard; keep late hours, and do it all for under $40,000 a year. If you’re willing to jump in head first, you have a distinct advantage here—and may even have the opportunity to grow with a smaller, up-and-coming agency. Total. And utter. Bonus.

The bottom line is you have everything you need to land a stellar PR job—you just have to work hard, stay focused, and not buy in to all the negativity in the media. Always remember: The greatest opportunities lie just beneath the shadows of life’s greatest challenges.

Rebekah Iliff is the co-founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based talkTECH Communications. She is an organizational management, development, and communications professional who has served clients across multiple industries and across the globe for over eight years. Ove the past decade she has worked with over 100 entrepreneurs, thought leaders, technology brands, healthcare companies, financial advisors, entertainment leaders, and small business owner. Contact her on Twitter via @ttcrebekah.

A version of this story first appeared on the blog PR at Sunrise.

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