This is the time of year when I receive a flood of requests to help new graduates find their first job in our profession. Even when she’s separated from me by six degrees, I believe in good karma and I love discovering new talent. So I always say “yes.” But this year I am officially taking down my help shingle because the majority of queries I have received have given me pause.
The last one, from a recent graduate of a large public university, sent me a form letter that said she was a “newly graduate with a degree in Public Relations” and ended with: “Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns!”
I have do have questions and am a little bit concerned. And I’m not going to call. A degree in public relations should include the lesson that to be successful, you excel at selling your ideas in writing.
So use what you’ve learned to land your first job and sell yourself to me. Regard your pitch as you would a pitch letter to the press. An excellent pitch answers the question: why is my story right for you? It’s tightly written, information-packed and offers a new perspective.
Use a tool you’ve already mastered – social media – to research the company and person you’re pitching. Peek at LinkedIn, check out my company’s website, giggle at our selfies on Instagram, and click through some of the links that we’ve recently shared on Twitter to understand what we think is worthwhile. There’s so much richness to be mined, find it, use it; then flatter me with your knowledge. Tell me why we are interesting to you, then, explain why we should be interested in you.
Because you have little work experience, show (not tell) that you are someone worth knowing. Why did you choose your major? What did you learn in college that said you were destined for this crazy profession? What campaigns have you seen that you thought were really clever? What brand do you think is doing a really good job? Our business is always changing; do you dare to make any predictions? I’d love to hear them.
A colleague demands that students who ask for job help follow her on Twitter, share her blog posts, and become her brand advocate before writing to her. That kind of fawning would make me uncomfortable. All I’m asking for is a well-considered pitch.
One more tip: before hitting “send,” dig up your AP Stylebook, glance at your Elements of Style, and please don’t capitalize public relations when using it as an adjective.
A pitch letter that sells the idea of you is your ticket to me helping you, so please allay my concerns and answer my questions because I want to fill our profession with smart, curious, creative communicators who know that the best idea that they’ll ever sell is themselves.