Public relations professionals work with media types--magazines and newspaper editors and radio and TV producers--to get their clients' stories in the news. Because there's an awful lot of media hype out there, and there are only so many stories the media can--or wants to--cover in an edition, PR people work hard to come up with new angles to attract attention and present their clients in a positive light. Public relations agencies also provide their clients with materials like press kits, annual reports, speeches and brochures--all the tools that go toward making that company, celebrity or celebrity-hopeful look good. If you like exercising your creative abilities, making those mental stretches, and staying on top of trends and issues while blowing your clients' horns, then this is the business for you. The public relations agency's advantages are that you get to use that creativity to the max, you're always on your mental toes, and you deal with a variety of interesting people all day. And you can work from your home. A degree or certificate in public relations is a plus but not an absolute necessity. You'll need top-notch written and verbal skills--you'll have to write catchy, pertinent press releases and stories for magazines and newspapers as well as be able to convince editors and producers to use your material instead of somebody else's. You should be familiar with the types of stories various publications and TV programs (from the local news to those late-night talk shows) are looking for and the deadlines they work under, and you'll need the confidence to deal with all these stressed-out types on their own terms.
Your clients can be just about any business, professional individual or celebrity you care to go after--including nonprofit organizations and government entities. As a newbie, you might want to specialize in certain types of businesses or professions, say doctors, writers, bioengineering firms or trendy software companies. And of course, companies in the industries you already know are always promising prospects. The best way to nab new clients is by networking and through personal contacts. Call in favors from everybody you know in any related fields. Start your own public relations campaign by direct-mailing brochures to prospects. Volunteer yourself as a guest on a local radio chat show.
You'll need a computer system with the usual office software, a laser printer, a color printer, a scanner and a fax machine.