Is it possible to move into PR from a non-PR or Journalism background?

Posted by Lauren Baker
Lauren Baker PR Account Manager at InFusion Comms

As the title says, is it possible? This is the question I asked myself earlier this year.

I can’t quite believe I’m about to enter my third month as PR account manager at InFusion Comms. Coming from a non-agency, non-PR background the transition has been overwhelming to say the least, but it’s also been an incredibly exciting and eye-opening experience. Here’s what I’ve learned about the transition into PR. 

Why did I choose to work in PR?

After graduating in Business with Marketing Management, I was ready to get on with my career. I knew I wanted to work in marcomms but I didn’t know what role I wanted to do, whether I wanted to go in-house or agency or what sectors I wanted to work for.

Immediately after graduating I moved into a marketing role for a fast-growing law firm. Although I love marketing and I enjoyed working there, I knew I needed a bigger challenge and wanted to experience a completely different industry. I also knew that to be genuinely satisfied with my job I needed more variation and to work with other creatives who shared the same passion for communication and from whom I could learn and bounce ideas off.

At first I was wary of taking on my role here; I wasn’t sure if I was ready for an account management position in an industry I’d never worked in and I worried how I would be able to help clients in industries I’d never had any real knowledge of. But I was willing to learn, wanted a challenge and here I am.

Transition into PR agency life

Agency life is not all fun and games like many companies would lead you to believe on social media, it’s hard work but it’s incredibly enriching. I’ve found I am constantly kept on my toes; no two days are the same. One day I might be working on blogs or features and visiting clients another I might be planning a whole campaign strategy for a client. And every client is completely different. I’m learning about industries, products and services I didn’t previously take much notice of and building professional relationships with a wide variety of people.

Moving to PR has been and is challenging, I’m doing many things I’ve never done such as pitching feature synopses to journalists, storyboarding videos, help writing eBooks and managing client relationships but my previous experience and studies in business and marketing have been unexpectedly useful in understanding, using and managing PR at a strategic level.

InFusion Comms team day out axe throwing

I’ve learned very quickly that you need to act fast and think on your feet to manage client reputations maybe because a negative review has been written or there’s been a major news story that day and you need to appropriately react to such news. You’ve always got to be as prepared as possible for the unknown, including adapting strategies to client’s changing needs.

It’s challenging and busy yet we still have our fair share of fun. We have regular team days most recently going axe throwing! In my first month we all pulled together to move offices and bonded over finding it way too funny failing to put up flat pack furniture (If PR doesn’t work out for us, applying to Ikea probably isn’t an option). I feel incredibly lucky to work with such a close-knit down to earth team and coincidently we’re all a little bit obsessed with tea and houseplants, which anyone that’s visited our office will notice.

And finally, is it possible to move into PR from a non-PR background? Yes. Don’t expect a simple switch but it can be a move full of potential and reward.

My top tips for anyone starting out in PR

1. Keep organised

I remember friends and family used to laugh at me for keeping to-do lists but now I’ve moved away from the traditional pen and paper lists as working here I’ve been introduced to a list lovers dream with the likes of software like Trello and honestly, it has been invaluable in keeping myself, my team and accounts organised.

2. Never. Stop. Learning.

Learn more about the PR industry, keep up to date on changes, learn more about your clients and their industries. It will make your job easier, I guarantee it. 

3. Stay on top of current affairs 

You need to be aware of what is happening in the news. So much is talked about that could have an impact on clients and you need to be ready to adapt strategies, create fresh content and advise clients on current issues. 

4. Build relationships 

Probably a little obvious, but don’t underestimate the need for building relationships, whether that be with journalists, the team you work with, your clients, or other local business people.

5. Remember, you know your stuff! 

You might not know PR like the back of your hand yet, and you’re likely to be overwhelmed when starting out, but you will have transferable skills that are beneficial. Be confident in using your strengths, share your knowledge with your team, listen to theirs and together you can build a really effective team.