Gina Rubel is a Doylestown, PA attorney who owns her own public relations firm with a niche in legal communications. I asked Gina to share some advice for young professionals and students seeking to enter the PR arena. Here is what she had to say:
1. What are some of the characteristics you look for in a candidate seeking a job in public relations or corporate communications?
Some of the most important characteristics to me, in no particular order are that the candidate is well-spoken, a good writer, demonstrates leadership abilities, is creative, likes being behind the scenes and making sure that it’s the clients that shine, is motivated, driven, has integrity and is well-balanced with both academics and extra-curricular activities.
2. What are a few key things you look for on a resume?
Since I receive upwards of five to twenty resumes per week, very few actually stand out. Most resumes today come via e-mail so it is particularly important that the “cover letter” (a.k.a. e-mail) be well written, address to me personally (I recently received one addressed to “Mr. Rubel”), is customized and targeted for this agency (we don’t send generic media pitches and proposals – so we expect the same when someone is trying to get our attention), and articulates clear and concise points. Once they’ve gotten past the “cover letter test” then and only then will I look at the resume.
So to answer the original question, the resume needs to be well-organized, targeted, and customized for Furia Rubel and the job being applied for. It also needs to demonstrate solid skills and knowledge of integrated communications – not just public relations. I don’t typically get hung up on “experience” if it’s a student. I look for solid academics and extra-curricular activities – and if those activities are “raising a family” – the resume should state that to show balance, drive, and initiative. Oh, and did I say proper spelling and grammar? That should be a given but unfortunately it’s not. Last week I received an e-mail will all lowercase “i” when referring to one’s self. Need I say more?
3. How has being an attorney influenced your career in public relations and would you recommend law school to others seeking to be in communications?
Being an attorney is in my blood. I am a third-generation attorney. My grandfather was the first Italian-American U.S. Magistrate in the country’s history. My father, Richard Furia, is an attorney in Philadelphia, and I followed in his footsteps. I chose my undergraduate major in part because I felt that training in communications would be great preparation to speak before a jury. After practicing, I learned that the opposite is also true: practicing law prepared me for a career in public relations. The two really do go hand-in-hand.
4. On a typical day, what do you read?
In no particular order, I read feeds from all of the following in either iGoogle, Google Reader, via e-mail notices or in print: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Legal Intelligencer and Law.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Drudge Report, Huffington Post, PR News, PR Week, and posts by Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Jason McCabe Calacanis, Michael Port, Steve Rubel, you (Ron Culp – of course), Adam Smith Esq., Above the Law, The Philadelphia Business Journal, Duct Tape Marketing, Strategies (LMA), several ABA publications and quite a few others. For fun and personal enrichment I read: Smithsonian, National Geographic, Audubon, Italy, and Birds & Blooms. And did I mention anywhere from 100 – 300 e-mail and social media direct messages?
5. What advice would you give to someone just entering the public relations field?
I would say: take your first job very seriously – it can define you. Learn how to apply social media to traditional public relations. Hone in on your writing skills. Learn how to manage up. Find a mentor. And make yourself invaluable.
Gina Rubel blogs at ThePRLawyer.com.