Public relations is a hugely exciting career path for enthusiastic individuals who are passionate about telling interesting stories, informing the masses about the next hot trends or setting the political agenda. From tech PR to consumer PR to public affairs to corporate PR, it is a constantly evolving industry.
Of course, there are a wide variety of ways to break into the industry, be that transitioning from a career in journalism or starting straight after your undergraduate degree. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to preparing yourself for a career in PR – the right path will depend on factors like your degree, experience, interests and circumstances.
No route in the ‘right one’ but we have put together some insights around the difference ways to study and get into PR in Ireland:
1. Undergraduate options
While there are many people who eventually find their way into the world of PR, there are those who decide to study it as an undergraduate degree. For others, closely related degrees such as Communications can often be the best bet. DCU offers a BA in Communications while UCD enables students to study Information and Communication Studies as part of a joint Arts degree with other relevant subjects.
While studying degrees that are directly linked to PR are beneficial, there are other options that are equally relevant.
For students who think they may be interested in a career in PR in Ireland, keeping your options open with a general Arts degree can be a good approach. Most colleges and universities offer courses where you can study subjects like English, History and Sociology for example, which teach invaluable skills for a successful career in PR in Ireland. (More on those later!)
2. Postgraduate possibilities
Many colleges including DCU, PRII, CIT, DIT and Griffith College, Waterford IT, DBS, Galway Business School and Limerick College of Further Education and Carlow IT have postgraduate courses in Public Relations, Communications or Media Relations. These courses range in length, location and cost, so picking a course that is best suited for you and your needs is important. For example, an evening or weekend course might suit if you are working full-time in another field.
What can be an advantage to studying these courses is the work placement that many of them ensure their students benefit from. Researching agencies that are affiliated with certain courses can be a way to make contacts and get valuable work experience in the industry and type of PR that you’re interested in.
3. Part-time opportunities
For those that might already be working either in a different job or have just started in PR in Ireland, postgraduate diplomas such as the one run by the Public Relations Institute in Ireland (PRII) or the Fitzwilliam Institute can offer great content and flexibility.
These courses are excellent for giving students a knowledge of the basics of the industry in Ireland. It also gives students a chance to network with others who are also starting their careers in PR in Ireland and learn from real-life experiences.
4. Work experience:
Work experience is so important, and we would strongly recommend that this is factored into any decision as to studying public relations. At Comit we love taking on work experience students, some of whom have become full time members of the team. Students often have a choice of companies that they can apply to. It is so important that careful consideration is given to which roles to apply to as the skillset of a PR professional is quite specific, and it is so important to get good experience.
We strongly recommend that students look for prospective employers who are likely to:
- Give them a wide and carefully thought-out programme of experience which will give them the opportunity to practice many elements of the theory they have been learning - These include skills such as research, writing, pitching and organisation
- Give them access to senior executives who can enhance their learning
- Offer them an opportunity for fulltime work after their experience finishes
- Pay them fairly
As mentioned earlier, the skillset of a good PR professional is quite specific and vitally important.. The most important thing, no matter what route you decide to go down, is to build up a bank of PR-critical skills. That could be a with undergraduate and master’s degree, but it could also be
Speaking of which, it’s also worth noting that agencies differ in what they look for in a new hire. So a good way to suss out what skills you need, and whether you have them, is to look at lots of job postings.
PR attracts people from all backgrounds which is what makes it such an interesting industry to be involved in. There is no hard and fast rule to what you need in terms of what you need to study or work as before you embark on a career in PR in Ireland. Finding out where your strengths lie and what suits you is half the battle.
At Comit we pride ourselves in providing an excellent route into the workplace for people who are looking to build a career in PR. We pride ourselves on offering excellent career development and learning.