Chris Clarke has posted about getting his first PR job. Straight out of school. With my firm, Thornley Fallis, a big-city PR agency.
In his post, Chris says:
I owe this opportunity to one thing and one person. The thing is blogging and new media. Without it, there is little else that sets me apart from the rest of the students in the field of PR in Toronto (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). The person is David Jones. He took a minute to read a comment I left on his blog many months ago, corresponded with me through email, agreed to speak to my program, volunteered to help our program organize a trip to visit a number of PR firms in Toronto, and was kind enough to invite me to Toronto for a sit-down meeting with him. David did more for me than most teachers I had this year in college, and I can say with total confidence that he’s taught me more than many of them, too. So David, thank you so much.
The thing that intimidates me the most about this little PR adventure is that there really is no blueprint to follow. I can’t point to any other successful bloggers who happen to also be students of public relations programs who have taken the big step into the agency world right out of college and succeeded (although I have a feeling I’m not alone in this thinking). That won’t deter me, though. It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but I hope to be a model for future students who might someday be in the position I’m in right now. Hopefully, they can point to me and feel confident that they can do a good job too. It’s a big responsibility, though: my success will certainly be a deciding factor in hiring future bloggers at Thornley Fallis. It might be a deciding factor for other firms thinking of hiring PR students with blogs. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see (and make sure I don’t screw it up for the bloggers!)
Chris is right in his assessment of the important role played in his recruitment by David Jones (who showed the very best qualities of a senior PR practitioner in reaching out to students of PR and in doing so gave us all a standard to live up to) and Chris’ decision to blog.
What Chris may not remember is that he sent us his CV and applied for a position with our firm in February. At that time, his CV revealed him to be a university graduate who was rounding out his education with studies in public relations at Fanshawe College. He had been involved in a range of extracurricular and community service activities. A bright young student looking for a first job in his chosen field. One of the dozen qualified applicants we hear from each month.
But Chris didn’t stop there. He used his time in school to begin to pursue his passion for blogging. And he began to interact with established bloggers. Not just David Jones, but also many others including A listers like Joseph Jaffe.
So, Chris didn’t fade from our consciousness after we had reviewed his CV. Instead, he set himself apart from all of the other people who sent us CVs by distinguishing himself. We followed his blog. And when it came time for us to recruit a new staffer to work with us in our expanding social media practice, it was a no-brainer to call Chris.
But is this something new or exclusive to blogging? Not at all. Savvy young people have known for years that high grades and university degrees are not enough to land the best jobs after graduation. The very best people distinguish themselves by doing something out of the ordinary to make them remarkable to recruiters in their chosen profession.
For Chris, it was his student PR blog. Others I have hired over the years have distinguished themselves while students in a number of other ways: handling communications for a community cause; preparing a branding and marketing program for a student pub; being actively involved in a political leadership campaign (yes, politics can be an admirable thing, if engaged in for principled reasons) or: working as an intern in a newsroom or PR agency.
And in each case that I recall, the person didn’t just go through the motions to assemble CV credentials. They excelled in their extra activity, producing outstanding results and earning the respect of the people they worked with.
And that’s what Chris did. Student PR isn’t just a blog. It is a blog with thoughtful posts that probe the nature of best practices in the emerging social media.
In this Chris has truly established himself as a model for others.
We’re looking forward to his arrival at Thornley Fallis. There are no guarantees of success. But we’re hopeful that we can provide an environment where a promising young PR practitioner can and will excel.
Welcome aboard Chris!