So you want to be a PR professional…

Greetings college students, almost-grads, and (maybe not so) recent grads! Lauren Fernstrom here, and with this being my first blog post I thought I would draft a helpful sheet of how-to’s, what-to-do’s and of course, what-not-to-do’s as you begin to apply for your first full-time public relations position.

But first things first. Before you start browsing around the internet or newspaper for a company or organization that sparks your professional interest, think to yourself how your background, extracurricular activities or internships might be of interest to that workplace. If you have been interning in the sports industry, but find that you suddenly want to work in fine arts, you must understand that you can’t just press the proverbial button and automatically get a job in an unrelated field, you have to take a step back and reposition your strategy. Jump on, look in the community section of the newspaper, go to the career center of your college or university and apply for an internship or simply volunteer at an organization that is relatable. This will help you tremendously when applying to any job. It will immediately set you aside from the rest of the applicants because you are already one step ahead. As both David Landis and our Director Marsha Robertson would say, “critical thinking is your most powerful tool as a PR professional.”

If you are still enrolled in school and are looking for resume and experience boosters, become a member of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), apply for internships on a trimester basis (think fall, spring and summer), write for your school newspaper to hone your writing skills or reach out to student groups and offer your help in publicizing and promoting on-campus events. These are all things that are not only attractive to employers but will give you the experience and confidence that is ideal in a job candidate.

So now that we’ve hit all the positives of your college experience in preparation for the “real world,” here are a few helpful reminders on what not to do when applying for a job:

  1. PROOFREAD your resume and cover letter at least 3 times. THEN have a friend or family member do the same. You will never even get the chance to be considered if there is a visible typo in your submitted documents.
  2. If you don’t hear back after submitting your resume, it is best to refrain from calling or sending your cover letter several times. A polite follow-up email a week or two later is the best way to re-initiate contact.

If it turns out that you are not ready for a full-time job or you think that you would be best suited with another internship before you start your search, my associate Andrew Jepsen heads Landis Communications Inc.’s internship program and he is the king when it comes to the do’s and do-not’s of applying specifically for an internship. Stay tuned for his next blog post for more information about how to land the perfect internship.

And of course, with any blog post, above is what I found to be true in my own personal quest for my first job, so if you have any helpful hints or tactics that worked for you, please leave a comment below or email me at [email protected].

Now for my version of Backtalk’s Top Twelve San Francisco list:

1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) – a great way to spend one of the many rainy days here in the ‘City by the Bay.’

2. Hiking the Lands Trail End Trail from Sutro Baths to Eagles Point – you’ll see a different view of the Golden Gate Bridge every time you look up!

3. Aqua – the best tuna tartare (and hamachi and scallops and…) you’ll ever have!

4. ING Bay to Breakers 12K – this San Francisco Mardi Gras-style foot race is just a few months away. So dig up your costume and jump online to register for the May 18, 2008 race at

5. NIKETOWN in Union Square. Your knees will thank you later-believe me! One note to visitors of SF: just because the map looks flat does not mean the streets are!

6. Avalon at Nob Hill – the most incredible apartment building in San Francisco. If you are looking to move, stop by and ask Charles or Marlon for more information.

7. Mixt Greens – Marsha Robertson and I dream of Pax (NYC) chopped salads all day long. This is the closest thing to our favorite NYC salad spot, but with a San Francisco twist (Kobe beef and Asian pear are menu items).

8. The Ferry Building – sit back and people watch on Saturday mornings at the world-renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. From beautiful fresh cut flowers to all local produce, this is one San Francisco tradition that can not be missed.

9. Pier 39 – because sometimes there’s nothing like a touristy day of sea lions and going to Alcatraz.

10. MR. – No, I don’t go to the barbershop for a quick shave but I recently attended a lavish Oscar party at the posh Financial District hot spot’s lounge and absolutely loved the interior. Bottles of Clicquot line the bottom of the HUGE flat screen hanging on the wall — need I say more? Book your next party by visiting

11. Wok Shop Café – an LCI favorite on Sutter Street.

12. Ace’s – the best Yankee-loyal bar this side of the Cross Bronx Expressway. And they even pull out the grill (to the sidewalk!) on game days.

5 thoughts on “So you want to be a PR professional…

  1. One more “thing to do” this week in SF. The New York Philharmonic’s historic concert in North Korea will be broadcast on KQED’s Digital Channel (locally Comcast Channel 190) from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday, March 2. Tune in!

  2. Just a couple of points related to your excellent advice.

    1. I want to amplify your comment about proofreading one’s resume. Like many firms, candidates are not hired because of their resume. But they are NOT hired because of their resume. Some time ago, I forgave glitches and typos — even though I am fanatical about editing and proof reading — but experience demonstrated that the few we hired despite resume hiccups, did not make it.

    2. We like having interns. More than one intern have become full-time employees and, when the time to make the next step was right, went on to other satisfying positions. We have hired many great interns who found rewarding positions following graduations. it is a great idea to get yourself an internship, BUT don’t necessarily count on the college to drive the process. We’ve found some career centers or internship directors to be real “tigers.” Others are quite passive. Following through on your own is quite appropriate.

  3. Just signed up for the Bay to Breakers. My yellow balloon is anxious to see the light of day! Love tuna tartare and will visit Aqua next time I’m in town. Thanks!

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