Where to find the jobs
PR agency web sites and industry magazines are the best place to find information on specific agencies and job listings. PR Week and similar nationwide magazines usually rank agencies each year. Those in the business say the Internet is one of the best places to research agencies. For openings in book publicity, find out the names of PR directors in publishing companies and apply directly.
For jobs in political PR, insiders say the best route is to get into the press office in any way possible, and say that "who you know" definitely helps you get your foot in the door. If you know you want to work on Capitol Hill, those in the industry suggest doing your homework and "networking like crazy." To identify the politicians you'd like to work for, decide what party you'd like to work for, and decide what level you want to work on. Check out a publication called The Almanac of American Politics, which is published biannually by the National Journal. Each edition of The Almanac compiles political profiles of every state and congressional district, complete with biographies of every congressional member, senator, and governor. Once you decide what politicians you would like to work for, ask for informational interviews, and use the contacts you make to make further contacts. You might also try to get a position working for one of the special committees on Capitol Hill (e.g., the Appropriations Committee or the Energy and Water Committee), or the Republican or Democratic national committees.
Writing samples and more
To get hired in PR, you will most likely need writing samples or clips of published work (articles or op-ed pieces, as opposed to creative writing). You should also be familiar with current events, and be able to name several periodicals that you read regularly, and why you read them. If you think you want to work in a specific industry, you should definitely be up on what's going on in that business. Some people enter PR after stints in journalism. Their experience in writing and dealing with other journalists is invaluable. And specialized experience in just about any industry can be applied to PR.
There are 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in PR. Many find internships and contacts in the industry through on-campus chapters of the Public Relations Society of America. You can also get into the business with a liberal arts or journalism degree. When it comes to entry-level jobs, it's those with internship experience who have the edge on the competition.