The best way to learn PR is to do PR

Photo by San José Library.

The best way to learn public relations skills is to do PR. But how does one get a job with limited experience? They volunteer.

There are heaps of charities and not-for-profit organizations that have important stories to tell—but they may not have the people power or the budget. That’s where you come in.

As you look to develop your PR skills and seek job opportunities, spend some time doing PR with a local charity. The benefits are many:  

  • Add some real-life work samples to your portfolio. 
  • Expand your network.  
  • Develop new PR skills.
  • Include PR volunteer experience on your LinkedIn profile and résumé.

Volunteering tips

Do some soul-searching and identify the areas that you are most passionate about

Everything from animal rights groups to health care agencies need PR support. Seriously—every performance, event, fundraising walk, run or bike rodeo needs your skills to help get bums in seats.

Reach out to your network of friends

I sent out an email blast with the subject line “Seeking a volunteer opportunity” to former coworkers. I listed my areas of interest, skills that I could provide, and my availability. I found a charity board that was looking for my skill set by noon. I volunteered with them for over five years.

If a charity doesn’t currently have anybody focusing on PR, offer to start a communications committee

You can recruit others to join your committee so you can collaborate and share the workload. Be sure to ask a senior PR practitioner to provide guidance. Their second set of eyes on strategy and materials can be a limited time commitment for them, but a huge learning opportunity for you.

You can get a lot from volunteering. It will help you develop your career aspirations and reach a few professional and personal goals—all while you help others. Sounds like a good idea to me. 

About the author

Fawn Mulcahy has over 20 years of public relations experience in agency, client-side and consultation capacities. Currently the senior manager of sponsorship marketing with RBC, she worked on the 2010 Winter Games with both the Organizing Committee and Canwest.

Take a class with Fawn Mulcahy