In the majority of careers, having a well-crafted resume and cover letter will be enough to land an interview with a potential employer, but that’s not necessarily the case within the dynamic field of public relations, or PR for short. Since this field in particular revolves primarily around a candidates writing, editing and research abilities, employers need proof of your skills â€“ and that’s where your portfolio comes into play.
First Things First. What is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is where you will house your writing samples and various pieces of design, copy writing, editing, research and overall accomplishments â€“ everything related to your personal development in the field of public relations. It’s important to have both an online portfolio (WordPress is a great free resource) and a physical copy to take with you to interviews. Remember that both versions need to be extremely professional and free from any spelling errors to ensure you showcase your work to the very best of your abilities.
In case you’re still in college, or a fresh graduate and can’t think of many pieces of work to include in your portfolio yet, that’s okay. It’s important to remember that your portfolio will develop as your career does. Straight out of college employers will expect to see work from your internships and PR-related classes, but as you take on new challenges, your portfolio will become a direct reflection (and even more impressive)!
Now that you know what a portfolio is and what it’s used for, let’s dive into creating your masterpiece.
Creating a Great PR Portfolio in Three Simple Steps:
Step #1: Save
To have the most impressive portfolio possible, you’re going to need documents to include, right?
During your internships and throughout college it’s extremely important to save every assignment from your design, communication and public relations classes â€” every press release, essay, newsletter and every single piece of research, along with several pieces showing off your graphic design or computer skills (using programs like InDesign or Photoshop).
When I was personally attending college, I had a huge box in my dorm room that I would throw assignments into after they were graded. For work that was submitted electronically, I kept a folder on my desktop labeled â€˜Portfolio’ and added documents as necessary, making it really easy later on to sift through what I would actually use, and what would ultimately end up in the trash bin.
Step #2: Sift
When you’re getting ready to start applying for a position using all of your new-found PR skills it will be time to start sifting through all that you have saved and decide which documents should be included and which don’t quite make the cut. Don’t feel the need to incorporate everything you have saved. Your portfolio should be concise and should only include only your best work!
According to PRSSA, a good portfolio should include the following:
- A clean copy of your resume and cover letter
- A few writing samples
- One or two examples of your editing abilities
- Clean copies of pieces you’ve created from editing software (like Photoshop)
- Evidence of any specific skills or professional affiliations
Your portfolio can also include letters of reference and other documents that you feel highlight what you can offer to the company, and be sure to tailor it to each job in particular.
Step #3: Share
Once you’ve decided what to include in your portfolio, it will be time to share it with the world! After you’ve created your online portfolio, be sure to include a direct link within your personal email signature, as well as within your LinkedIn profile, and your resume (close to where you’ve listed your contact information) too. This will help employers easily find examples of your work when sifting through applications.
This can’t be stressed enough: spend time on the presentation of your portfolio. A leather binder is always a good choice for the physical copy, complete with plastic sheets to hold your writing examples and a table of contents to help your employer sift through the various sections. Be sure both your physical and electronic portfolios are as well organized and concise as possible, and completely free from any errors.
Need an example to help you get started? Here’s a link to my personal online portfolio.
Although developing a portfolio for a career in public relations may seem overwhelming at first, a professional portfolio can really help you stand out, and what better way to prove your skills than through your own writing and designs! If you get stuck or need some help with your portfolio, your PR professors can be a great resource, or the career services office at your college or university.