If you are a PR student, what’s the likelihood of you securing an entry-level role in internal communication? Should we, could we, be doing more to encourage graduates and young people into IC?
Today’s guest post is written by PR student Martyna Borys, @MartynaMJulia, who is interested in internal communication. She’s Generation Y, having been born in 1992, and is currently studying PR at Westminster University in London.
Martyna has shared with me how university peers are not considering Internal Communications as an accessible career choice, or at least not at an entry-level job.
How can you start in IC?
I began my career as a journalist aged 18, a week before my 19th birthday. Three years later I moved into internal communication, having never heard of it until job hunting. It was a phrase I found on a recruitment website, and the description of the role resonated.
What is being said about internal communication in schools and universities globally? Is it seen as a viable career choice?
It’s three years since I guest lectured for PR students at the London College of Fashion to introduce them to internal communication. Their questions and opinions of IC were eye-opening for me as I realised it was something they’d never encountered.
But what about courses focused on PR? Are today’s students learning about internal communication? And what options are there once they graduate?
Throughout this article I’m going to share some ideas and resources to help you find a comms role. If you are working in-house and have some internship opportunities, do please get in touch by commenting below.
I’ll hand you over to Martyna (pictured)…
Thoughts from a PR student on the world of IC
“In about five months, I will be graduating from Westminster University with a BA in PR and Advertising. I would rather name it “Consumer Public Relations course with a splash of advertising.”
The descriptions of Public Relations vary between authors and researchers. In the book PR Today, written by two of my module leaders, PR is explained as:
“planned persuasion of people to behave in the ways which further its sponsor’s objectives. It works primarily through the use of media relations and other forms of third party endorsement.”
My course was mostly focused on the second part: Media Relations and creative campaigns, aimed at getting amazing coverage and relevant publicity.
Of course, we’ve learned a lot. I am convinced that everyone in my class will graduate with an adequate skill set to enter the Agency market and work as a junior PR executive.
Speaking of such, London is an amazing place in terms of the wide range of opportunities available. For University students, there are many possibilities to get appropriate work experience in external PR, or what we like to call “traditional PR.”
It is what students tend to believe most PR professionals do every single day – researching, then writing and pitching stories to get decent publicity for their clients.
However, PR has something more to offer than just media relations.
Well, this is why I decided to take my degree in this major.
What fascinates me the most is not producing “good-looking” content, but more of how to perform to make sure the organisation is doing an amazing job so we can tell the world about it.
Ian Wright, Diageo’s Corporate Relations Director mentioned in an interview that “Our job is to make sure companies behave appropriately and state the facts.” That way of understanding PR is what drives me to pursue my career in that field.
Public Relations is not simply media relations.
People who say so are not realising the potential PR has. Public relations is a multi-faceted craft and you immediately realise that when you start looking for work opportunities. It took me some time to actually figure out what it is that I was supposed to be doing or could be doing.
How to land a job at a top 150 public relations agency – by Stephen Waddington @wadds
Discovering the world of IC
I first heard about Internal Communications at University. It was during my first year, when we had a module called Introduction to Public Relations.
It was mentioned so we could afterwards move on to External Communications and talk about that for next three years. Fine.
Although, through work experiences and networking with the people in the industry, I have developed a clear idea of what area of PR I’d like to work in.
Internal communication is definitely my top pick, yet it is still a “relatively new” discipline; it is quite hard to find sources for someone at the very beginning of the journey.
I was digging for the information mostly on the Internet. Born in 1992 – Generation Y – explains the reflex I have to go to Google when I need a quick answer. (No shame) I have to say, the results have been quite fruitful!
Honestly, hey. Never underestimate the power of Google search. University libraries are equipped with many great theoretical books. These are probably the best when you are trying to figure out organisational structures and the role of Internal Communications within it.
However, the Internet is always up-to-date with many recent stories of real people who are usually just a Tweet away from you.
How to find a job
On the topic of doing your own online research, social media is really a place to be, especially when it comes to those who work in PR.
Further reading about IC careers via the All Things IC blog
Do you have the right skills to do your job? – a look at the Generalist vs Specialist debate
All you need to know to develop your IC career
Welcome to internal communication: a guide for you if you’re just starting out
How to explain comms to a toddler
How to find your next comms role
How comedy can prepare you for internal communication
How the history of IC can be traced back to the 1920s
How to master communication through education.
When I read an interesting interview on a blog or an article from someone in the profession, I immediately follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
They are always sharing relevant content and are usually open to interesting conversations that lead you to discover more and more people, and as a result, new opportunities.
In order to find resources or ask someone for the advice you really need to get more clear idea of what your interest are. As I’m actively seeking to gain some more work experience, I’ve come across a lot of interesting individuals.
People in the action are usually the best to reach out to for career advice. Usually, even if the company I fancy are not actively seeking employees or interns, I will still get in touch with them to introduce myself and show my interest anyway.
That usually leads to an exchange of a few emails that, 1) Establish great connections, and 2) Enable me to ask for the suggestions or advice from people in your desired profession.
Just few months ago I still had no clue what the difference between in-house, internal and corporate communications was. I just thought it sounded more fun than what I was doing in Consumer PR.
However, is important to realise that working with an in-house team doesn’t mean working in Internal Communications as well as working in Internal Communication doesn’t necessarily have to be in the Corporate Division.
Talking from my experience, another great way to see what Internal Comms is about is to research Agencies, which offer Internal Communications as one of its services. Reading lines on “what we can do for you” give you quite direct and honest view on what people who doing this job are really up to.
Internal Communication, in comparison to external PR seems a little out of reach for entry-level job seekers.
As University students, we have been told so much about external PR and this career path is seemingly quite accessible. In contrast, there are not many opportunities such as “Internal Communications Intern” mentioned throughout the program or elsewhere. That too makes it quite hard to figure out how to break into the field with a focus on Internal Comms.
I reckon this may be one of the reasons why many of my university peers are not considering internal communication as an accessible career choice, or at least not at an entry-level job.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Martyna. There are so many things you’ve raised here that have set my mind whirring.
As promised, here are additional ideas and resources to help PR students get a job in IC
You can’t beat making personal connections. Keep an eye on my comms calendar or Sunday What’s on this week column to find opportunities to network and meet comms professionals in person or online. Make new connections, follow up on messages and spot opportunities to ask questions e.g. LinkedIn Groups and get involved.
- Join The IC Crowd
You’re welcome to follow @theICcrowd on Twitter. I co-founded The IC Crowd network alongside fellow Dana Leeson and Jenni Field in 2012. There are also lots of fantastic IC pros online. Follow lists such as IC Kings and Queens by Steven Murgatroyd, The IC Crowd, PR Doers, IC influencers. If you’re a student, follow Richard Bailey @behindthespin.
- Know what’s happening in the market
Read, read, read, there are lots of fantastic comms professionals who blog regularly. See my blogroll. There’s lots of cracking comms books around too.
- Be visible online
If you are serious about job hunting, make sure you are visible online. One of the first things recruiters do is search social profiles and see where you are (known as your digital footprint). At the very least ensure you have a LinkedIn profile, with appropriate photograph.
- Ask questions
There are numerous conversations happening on Twitter every day about PR, internal comms and topics related to the field. Join Twitter chats such as #commschat on Mondays, #PRTalk on Tuesdays and #esnchat on Thursdays.
- Build your portfolio
Offer to guest write for relevant publications to build your portfolio. Write your own posts via LinkedIn’s publishing feature. Clip these articles into boards on Pinterest and curate your own content and comments, so you can point recruiters towards them. Take time to research each publication/blog and read things like guidelines, so your proposal is spot on.
- Do your research
See the All Things IC jobs page to discover roles in the comms community, you can also find them on Twitter @AllthingsICjobs. There are many other job boards online and via LinkedIn, newspaper websites and industry publications.
- Consider joining relevant associations
There are student discounts available for associations. Ones to investigate include CIPR, IoIC, PRCA and IABC.
What’s missing? What advice would you give PR students looking for an IC role? As ever you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
Thank you again Martyna,
First published on the All Things IC blog 17 February 2016.