In the course of my work, I have had several opportunities to speak to young and aspiring PR professionals on what it takes to succeed in securing a job in Public Relations. I often tell them that skills, abilities and credentials are what prospective employers are looking for in job seekers. And you can’t trade these for good looks and charisma.

It has been said that you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression. So, how you demonstrate your worthiness to your prospective employer during your first meeting determines whether you’ll get hired or not. And one best way to do that is to develop a good PR portfolio and show it off on that first date. Unfortunately, many aspiring and young PR professionals do not know what it is, let alone how to develop an attractive and professional one.

So What Is A PR Portfolio?

It is a compilation of materials which demonstrates what you are capable of doing in the PR field with real life examples in both hard and soft copies. You may call it a bold statement of competence and employability. As a self-marketing tool, it should showcase your skills, achievements, abilities and credentials in the field.

What Makes a Professional PR Portfolio

Public Relations students Society of America (PRSSA) in their 2015 Career Resources Manual states that a good PR Portfolio ensures:

  • Writing of samples. If you must, use an academic writing sample and clearly mark it as such.
  • It’s organized and free of typos; any errors will jump off the page.
  • It’s clearly labeled with your name, address and phone number.
  • Highlights of what would most likely be doing in the future.
  • Is representative of your skills.
  • It provides the employer with a mixture of your skills and talents.

Specifically, what should it contain?

  • Your resume (CV)
  • Samples of written works; such as, press releases, feature articles, website pieces, brochure copies, pitches and clippings of news coverage the works got.
  • Evidences of social media presence and works. If you author a blog, for instance, show the link to the blog; show your social media activities with links to the specific networks you are active on.
  • A PR plan or plans you have developed or were part of the development team. This demonstrates your creative and strategic thinking skills. Ensure they don’t display sensitive information such as the client’s name, address etc.
  • Research reports you have written; such as, media audits report, competitive analysis reports, SWOT Analysis reports and others. Research skill is sought after in PR today.
  • Evidences of visual communication works; such as, posters, fliers including broadcast or online video. Include screen grabs in addition to CDs.
  • Evidence of application to a PR professional body; such as, certificate of membership.
  • Letters or certificates of appreciation for PR jobs well done during internship or done in your University days. Emails from supervisors are also good evidences.
  • Provide links to the online version of your PR Portfolio.

When selecting what to put in your portfolio, remember to go for the best. Select materials suitable for the industry and area of PR in which you intend to work. And note that how you organize your materials counts. Someone once said that experience is what you get when you are too old to get the job. A good PR portfolio proves that assertion wrong. You can capture your best PR experiences in your Portfolio even in your school and internship days and use them to secure your desired future. The best time to start is now.