Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Want to get hired? Think like a publicist

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

Being a publicist is hard work, but public relations pros may have all the right answers when it comes to landing a job or advancing up the corporate ladder. In "Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded," publicists Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper share their advice on how to use classic, well-tested PR techniques to get ahead.

Want to get a job or build your brand with the media savvy of a publicist? Here's what to do:

When online, keep it professional

You don't need to keep up with all the social networks, but make sure to set your best foot forward when it comes to Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections. "You may think that tweeting 'My job sucks' or 'I'm so hung over today' is innocent, but if your boss or a potential employer reads that, it could reflect poorly on you," says Jessica Kleiman, co-author and vice president of public relations at Hearst Magazines. "In PR, we like to consider everything 'on the record' because you never know who's sitting next to you when you're complaining on the train or who's reading your online profile."

Craft a message

With little time to pitch a service or product to reporters, it's important for publicists to be concise with what they want to say. "The first thing we do when we get a new client or project is to map out our key messages," says co-author Meryl Weinsaft Cooper and managing director at DeVries Public Relations. "Think about the three things you want people to know about you and then consider how you plan to communicate that in your resume and, ultimately, in a job interview." With so many job applicants, being able to weave a concise message to capture a recruiter's or hiring manager's attention is key.

Do your research

"Never go into a job interview without having researched the company," Kleiman says. "We would never pitch a reporter without having looked up [the reporter's] last few stories or knowing what kinds of topics the outlet covers." To prep for the interview, talk to current employees at the company, read industry blogs and make sure you understand what this company and position is really about. The more you know about a particular company and job opening the easier it will be to tailor your experience and explain why you're really a fit.

Don't be afraid of rejection

Even when approaching a dream company, don't be paralyzed by the thought of rejection, say the book's authors. Knowing how to deal with frequent rejection is part of the process as a publicist and is an especially relevant skill in times of high unemployment. At times, publicists send out a 100 inquiries to get just one or two responses, the authors point out.

Forget instant gratification

One of the skills most publicists learn right off the bat is that nothing pays off instantly. Instead take time to really craft and slowly build relationships. Many publicists need to constantly call their connections to get a positive response and following-up is often a large part of the job. Use the same tactics to get ahead in your job search. Instead of sending a cover letter and forgetting about that specific hiring manager or recruiter, be persistent and continue to follow-up without outright nagging. Building long-term relationships means they'll think of you when an opportunity arises.

Make it constant

Being a publicist is a 24-7 job, and like a job search, requires constant upkeep. Just like publicists need to keep tabs on how their specific product, person or service is doing -- job seekers should keep up with new opportunities, add to their experience and understand the changes in their industry. "While many celebrities and politicians have teams of PR experts working with them to build and manage their images, anyone can use the same skills to promote their talents and accomplishments in the workplace," Kleiman says.

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