Do you have strong writing skills and keen problem-solving abilities? Are you in tune to current news in print and media? Do you thrive in a fast-paced, fluctuating environment? If so, then a career in public relations may be for you.
Public relations facilitates positive and profitable relations between an organization and its actual or potential audiences. Public relations professionals are charged with securing favorable exposure for their internal and external clients. They design and implement strategies to help clients attain and maintain a certain public image and advise clients when dealing with significant negative events.
Colgate Professional Networks
The Marketing, Media, and Communications Network is designed to connect students and alumni with a shared interest in the communications field. This network is for anyone who would like to get involved in creating and delivering content to a wide audience via print, electronic, and broadcast.
Public Relations Positions:
- Private sector positions: Found in agencies and work on behalf of clients from a broad range of sectors, a particular industry or product, or within a specific employer.
- Public sector positions: Facilitates delivery of curriculum to a clientele.
- Job Developer: Located in most government agencies at the municipal, state, and federal levels. In government, public relations professionals are called press secretaries.
- Nonprofit positions: Conducts policy analysis and advocacy on either a local, state, or national level.
- Organizer: Are found in small entities in which employees may be responsible for performing multiple roles.
Public Relations Sectors:
- Media Relations: Answering reporters’ questions about the organization, coordinating conferences, establishing and maintaining contacts with mass media, and writing news releases and public service announcements.
- Community Relations: Planning and implementing special events and other programs that benefit the community.
- Investor Relations: Communicating with stakeholders of a corporation, brokers, financial institutions; coordinate annual meetings and conferences; and preparing materials for magazines, annual reports, quarterly statements, and online content.
- Marketing Communications: Writing product publicity brochures, organizing special events, interviews, and media publicity to promote a certain product or service.
- Special Events: Planning and managing meetings, open houses, grand openings, sports contests, and other events to create publicity for the organization.
- Fundraising: Writing brochures, fielding requests for financial support, setting-up donor events, and incentive programs.
- Crisis Management Relations: Developing and implementing a formal communication system and strategy in managing the short-term and on-going response to a major incident.
- Political and Government Relations: Liaising with government officials, overseeing legislative activity, and managing debates and seminars.
Vault Industry Guide: Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate email address to view this content) and then find “Public Relations” through the search box or in Industries & Professions. There are links to pages for many specific professions at the bottom of this page.
Prepare for Jobs and Internships
Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate.
Join a campus club or organization
Student groups are great for pursuing opportunities that relate to your interest in public relations. Group activities will help you to learn, develop, and showcase valuable “PR” skills to reference in a resume or cover letter.
Get an internship
Agency employers often use internship programs to recruit and select permanent hires. Interning gives you the opportunity to develop firsthand knowledge of the business and is the most valued career experience by hiring managers. Consider non-paid opportunities at smaller firms and start-ups since they can offer more direct experience.
Build relationships with as many people as possible and ask questions about your interests. Make it a priority to attend on-campus information sessions, career services events, and informational interviewing with Colgate alumni to learn about the industry and agency life. Intentional networking with friends, family members, alumni, and faculty can lead to securing an opportunity.
Start an online portfolio
When you apply for an internship or job, you should be prepared to show samples of your work. Samples may include your best academic papers, articles, social media or blog posts, photography, video, or posters. Agency employers normally request writing samples as part of the application process. Here are five free websites that offer the ability to create an online portfolio and do not require coding knowledge: WordPress, Clippings.me, Pressfolios, and Portfoliolounge.
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Attention to detail
- Experience with social media or blogging
- Knowledge of Photoshop or other image editing software, video production, and editing experience.
Not all of the above skills are required to land your very first job or internship but are highly preferred to maximize your potential for hire given that Colgate does not have a formal Public Relations degree program. Some employers will provide you with the tools and training but will expect that you have the temperament to learn.
Be familiar with these terms and use them in application materials and networking conversations.
- Press Release: A written or recorded press statement to the media that includes facts or the 5W’s (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) of a newsworthy story. Sometimes called a news release or video release.
- Copy: The text of an article, infographic, press release, or advertisement.
- Press Kit: A media bundle that contains news release, photographs, and other materials sent to press outlets.
- Teaser: A promotion that is intended to arouse interest about a campaign.
- Editorial: Written materials composed to communicate a brand to various audiences.
These organizations can be great places to make connections, learn more about the field and search openings. Many have discounted student memberships.
- Arthur W. Page Society for senior public relations/corporate communications specialist
- Association for Women in Communication offers graduate and undergraduate student membership and open to women and men
- International Association of Business Communicators for students and seasoned professionals
- Institute for Public Relations focuses on the research and practice of public relations
- Public Relations Student Society of America offers graduate and undergraduate student membership
Knowledge of industry news can give you a sense of the culture and make you a better interview candidate.
Vault.com: Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail address to view this content), find “Public Relations” through the search box or in Industries & Professions, then go to “The Industry Today” or “Current Trends and Issues”.
ART201, Digital Studio I
ART302, Digital Studio
ART241, Photography I
SOAN222, Media and Modern Society
ENL217, Intro to Creative Writing
ENG379, Literary Journalism
ENG209, Texts and Contexts
WRIT222, Narrative in New Media
WRIT102, Intro to Rhetoric
WRIT115 , Public Speaking
WRIT210, The Rhetoric of Style
COSC122, Graphics & Animation
Advice from alumni who work in this industry.
Ben Spicehandler ’12
Current Title and Organization: Vice President, Sard Verbinnen & Co
Major at Colgate: Sociology and Anthropology
What do you currently do?
I provide strategic communications advice and services to help clients manage overall positioning and specific events affecting their reputation, business, and market value. I work on behalf of multinational corporations, smaller public, and private companies, investment firms, professional services firms, education and cultural institutions, and high-profile individuals.
What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?
My first job out of Colgate was at Sard Verbinnen & Co as a Junior Associate.
How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field?
Colgate students are well equipped to work in strategic communications given their ability to analyze large amounts of information, communicate effectively across various constituencies, as well as their strong interpersonal skills.
What extracurricular activities, associated with your profession or not, were you involved with while at Colgate?
I was largely involved with my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, and participated in various Intramural sports as well.
The recruitment cycle of a typical hiring process for public relations jobs and internships begins in January and terminates in June.
Off-Campus Recruiting Consortia
CIC is a great way to connect with employers for internships and jobs during winter break. CIC events take place in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. Potential candidates are encouraged to prepare in advance of CIC deadlines by partnering with Career Services.
Past CIC Public Relations Employers (entry-level positions and internships):
Colgate Handshake Opportunities
Check Colgate Handshake, Colgate's internship and job database, for opportunities that may interest you in this field.
Connect to Careers
Latest stories about internships, workshops, professional networks, and more.
Public Relations Advisor
Vera first began her career at Colgate University in 2013 as the Associate Director of Career Development and recently transitioned into the role of Career Advisor for Creative Communications and the Arts to allow more time spent directly with students.
Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, a study abroad experience at Clemson University led her to the University of Mississippi, where she pursued advanced degrees in counseling and higher education. After becoming a licensed professional counselor in Mississippi, Vera served as a career planning specialist and adjunct professor at the same institution. Vera is passionate about empowering others to become the most extraordinary version of themselves— something she accomplishes through blogging and other creative ventures. Vera is joined in Hamilton by her husband, David Chapman, who currently serves as the head coach of the Colgate rugby football club, and their two young children, Grayson and Ivey.
Questions? Call 315-228-7380 for an advising appointment.