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Public Relations

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.
Victoria Tarantino ’16 looks at shoes at Prada in NYC.
In broad terms, the function of public relations is to facilitate positive and profitable relations between an organization and its actual or potential audiences. Public relations professionals are charged with securing favorable public exposure for their internal and external clients, designing and/or implementing strategies to help clients attain and maintain a certain public image and advising clients in dealing with a significant negative event.

Colgate Professional Network

The Marketing, Media and Communications Network is designed to bring together students and alumni with a shared interest and experience in the communications field.

This Network is for anyone interested or working on the creation and delivery of messages, information, and images to a wide variety of audiences via print, electronic, broadcast, and live.

Public Relations Advisor

Headshot of Vera Chapman
Read about Vera
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.

Explore Careers

Industry areas
Public Relations Positions:
  • Private sector positions: Are found in agencies, which work on behalf of clients from either a broad range of sectors or a particular industry or product, or within a specific employer.
  • Public sector positions: Facilitates delivery of curriculum to a clientele.
  • Job Developer: Are found 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, setting-up 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 and other 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.
Resources for further exploration
Vault Industry Guide: Log in or create an account (you will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail 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.
General tips
Join a campus club or organization
Participating in student groups are great for pursuing opportunities that relate to your interest in public relations. The activities of the group 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.

Network
Build relationships with as many people as possible and ask questions about your interests. Make it a priority to attend on-campus information sessions, CCS career 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 (i.e., your best academic/non-academic papers or articles, new media samples (blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts), photography, video reels, art posters, and other works). 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, Flavors.me, and Portfoliolounge.com.

Resume and Interview Advice from Spotlight on Careers (for username and password, please contact Career Services)
Helpful skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • New media knowledge (e.g., blogging and/or have a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other media pages)
  • Knowledge of Photoshop 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 expect that you will have the talent and temperament to learn.
Buzz words
Be familiar with these terms and use them in application materials and networking conversations. (Source: Institute of Leadership & Management)
  • 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 and/or video release.
  • Copy: The text/written components of an article, press lease or ad message.
  • Press Kit: A media bundle that contains news release, photographs, and other materials sent to media outlets.
  • Teaser: A promotion that is intended to arouse interest about a campaign.
  • Editorial: Written materials composed to communicate a brand to various audiences.
Professional associations
These organizations can be great places to make connections, learn more about the field and search openings. Many have discounted student memberships.
Industry news and trends
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” and/or “Current Trends and Issues”.

Trade Publications:
A sampling of relevant Colgate coursework
  • Art201, Digital Studio I
  • Art302, Digital Studio
  • SOAN222, Media & Modern Society
  • ENL217, Intro to Creative Writing
  • ENG379, Literary Journalism
  • WRIT222, Narrative in New Media WRIT102, Intro to Rhetoric
  • WRIT115 , Public Speaking
  • WRIT210, The Rhetoric of Style
  • ART241, Photography I
  • ENG209, Texts and Contexts
  • COSC122, Graphics & Animation

Alumni Advice

Headshot of Ben Spicehandler '12
Current Title and Organization:
Vice President, Sard Verbinnen & Co

Major at Colgate:
Sociology and Anthropology
Q&A with Ben
  • 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.

Find Opportunities

Recruiting timeline
The recruitment cycle of a typical hiring process for public relations jobs and internships begins in January and terminates in June.
Career and Internship Connections (CIC)
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):
Professional associations with job/internship postings
Training Programs
Summer Internships

More Opportunities

The Liberal Arts Career NetWORK (LACN) and Nationwide Internships Consortium (NIC) are databases of internships and entry-level jobs posted by employers interested in hiring liberal arts students.

naviGATE Opportunities

Below are some opportunities that may interest you from naviGATE, Colgate's internship and job database.

Connect to Careers

Latest stories about internships, workshops, professional networks, and more.
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