PR and ... finding a job outside of traditional boundaries

By Susan Sullivan

When you’re looking for a job in public relations, it’s always possible that you find your dream job … by looking outside the “public relations” postings.

Susan Sullivan is a public relations and government professional in Cincinnati.

Susan Sullivan is a public relations and government professional in Cincinnati.

For some time, I worked for one of the best PR agencies in Cincinnati. Now that I’m starting a new endeavor, I realize that I was limiting myself by just searching with the keywords “public relations” and “agency” and “communications.” The new job I’m tackling is in the government realm, one I’ve been in before as the Public Communications Manager for the City of Morgantown, W. Va., and I found it after widening my view.

There are a lot of obvious choices – public relations agencies, public relations professor, public relations for a major company. However, we’re not just our degree concentrations. We’re the sum of our experiences, and overlooking them is a big mistake!

Take, for example, Steve Lubetkin, who was featured in the Public Relations Strategist on May 2. He worked in a PR agency for years and found himself gravitating back toward his love of radio to start a career as a podcaster for a wide range of corporate and organizational clients.

How do you start looking for a job that blends PR with other arenas?  Here are some things to consider.

What did you do before you landed your first big PR job? For me, it was TV reporting, and supporting local government transparency by covering municipal meetings was my favorite task. For Steve Lubetkin, it was radio. Yours might have been a job at your favorite comic book store or coffee shop, volunteering with the United Way or even mowing lawns. Make yourself a little Venn diagram and imagine the possibilities in the overlap.

What is your favorite part of PR? What have you learned that you love doing? I really immersed myself when I was doing measurement reporting, for instance. I considered stretching this into grant writing or project management. If you’re a glutton for copywriting or content creation, consider reporting. Maybe you have an eye for designing social media images – have you thought about graphic arts?  Any of these “steps outside” can be extremely valuable if you consider how much your education turns you into a primo candidate for these jobs.

What kind of small business can you imagine yourself running? You’ve got the PR/marketing experience; you’ll be your own best publicity! With experience in branding, marketing, SEO, and media relations, you can ensure that, with little effort, your business will get the reach and exposure it needs – and that you won’t need to spend money hiring someone to do all that for you! Do you have a secret obsession? Golf, organizing, or books? Consider opening a golf shop, house organizing service, or bookstore with your hard-earned PR knowledge and watch yourself succeed.

Public relations can be an excitingly flexible field. Don’t be afraid to look at the outliers and consider your personal interests when searching for jobs; you may find just what you wanted waiting just outside the boundaries of public relations.