After graduating a few years ago and carving out his career in public relations and social media management, Orry Robinson gives his advice to graduates and others, looking to break into this sector:
The public relations landscape can often be a challenging one to navigate; for none more so than a newly qualified practitioner leaving university with their undergraduate or postgraduate degree held firmly in hand, hungry to make their presence known.
These young practitioners will soon come to realise that the Northern Ireland media offering is not as extensive as once thought when looking in from the outside. A handful of regional news outlets, radio, television, dwindling numbers of local press and a finite number of digital platforms. Several which fall shy of a sustainable model blending editorial and features with the ability to maintain a revenue stream; after all, with printed press in decline a source of income must be established elsewhere.
With a relatively small media landscape comes a small pool of PR agencies and independent practitioners meaning that the glut of competition graduating year in, year out is unforgiving.
There’s only so much an academic background can prepare you for. From personal experience, I can safely say that taking the leap and tackling projects independently, learning on the job, provided me with more insight into how the industry truly operates than the numerous essays produced during postgraduate studies.
The truth is this – you are highly unlikely to secure work within the PR industry in Northern Ireland upon graduation. Competition is tough and open vacancies are few.
Use this time to establish yourself. Launch a blog, take to social media like a whirlwind and manage projects as an independent practitioner. Write press releases, manage photocalls and run social media accounts. But, don’t become a jack of all trades – simply ensure you are versed in how each works.
Your competitors are interns building relationships with the big-hitters of the industry in Northern Ireland, your competitors are bloggers finding their niche in writing for news, business and consumer, your competitors are even pure social media managers and, one that is becoming ever more prevalent, videographers.
The time to PR yourself is now.