1. Read a lot. 2. Write a lot.
Have you read a well-written article? Save it in a “great writing” folder for future inspiration. Make sure your copy is crisp, compelling, and mistake-free. Proofread multiple times. Have a friend or co-worker critique it before you submit it. Be your own ruthless editor. Purchase the style guide your agency or employer recommends. Refer to it often. Learn the difference between you’re and your; they’re, their, and there, etc. Steer clear of buzzwords and jargon. Spell out acronyms. Write copy that a 12-year-old or a grandmother can understand. If NASA can do it about a Mars rover mission, you can do it about your client’s new household cleaning product. Becoming an exceptional writer is a long, hard process, but the time you invest in this pursuit today will pay dividends for decades to come. Work at an agency. If you have the chance, work at a PR or communications agency. It’s the fastest way to learn about many aspects of the business in a short period of time. You’ll be able to work with clients in a broad range of industries. You’ll also have a chance to learn about different aspects of communications, including media relations, crisis communications, internal communications, social media, event planning, and more. Working for one year in an agency is like working for three years on the client side. Nothing compares to the fast-paced environment of an agency when it comes to learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to work for free. I know this is a controversial topic these days, and I’m probably going to take some heat on this one. I also know that when you’re graduating, money is tight. But ask yourself: Would you rather spend your job-hunting time sitting around your apartment waiting for the phone to ring? Or getting some valuable experience, testimonials, references, and connections while providing your services on a volunteer basis? Working for free should never be Plan A, but if you’re getting frustrated with the job hunt, what do you have to lose? There are a few benefits to working for free for a limited period of time: