Creating a Portfolio: What to include and why to include it

Recently I finished my internship with a local agency that specializes in hospitality PR. Being a smart and well-informed intern, I took the advice of Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan.com. He recently published an article on the best things to do before you leave your internship, which included compiling all the writing and creative materials that you created and worked on over the summer. After having done this though, I wondered, “now what?”

I knew the answer was to create a portfolio that I could use for interviews to showcase the work that I am capable of producing. But how do I go about putting something like that together? Well, after a couple of weeks of research I found the foundation of the information I needed on the PRSSA website (click here to read the rest of their recommendations). PRSSA recommends including the following in your portfolio:

  • A copy of your resume
  • Any licenses or certifications that you have acquired
  • Evidence of specific skills (e.g. public speaking, leadership, writing)
  • Work samples (e.g. class projects, items produced during internship or co-op experiences)

Additionally, Susan Balcom Walton wrote an article in January of 2008, entitled PR Portfolios: Putting your best work forward in the new year, that discusses how best to showcase the contents of your portfolio. Below are some of the highlights:

  • Present samples in their original form as often as possible. For example, if you are showing a newspaper story, a clipping of the printed publication is best, not just an electronic version. Original pieces help the reviewer better understand how the document was actually used.
  • Select your best pieces to include, not everything you’ve done. Avoid the temptation to use your lesser work as filler if the portfolio seems too lean.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread — then ask your roommate, mom, academic adviser or lab instructor to proofread it again. And did I mention the importance of proofreading?
  • In addition to rigorous proofreading, check your tone as well. Ruthlessly review your own materials to ensure that you’ve achieved the right tone — and ask friends or teachers to help. Does the portfolio speak about your skills and not just about you? Is it confident but not arrogant? Is it an honest and reflective portrayal of what you’ve done?
  • As you create your hard copy portfolio, keep a few samples handy in neat, organized electronic form as well. You never know when a faraway recruiter or account team may be considering a candidate and may need to look at some writing samples. Have some work that you can quickly e-mail if prospective employers ask.
  • Above all, remember that this is portfolio creation — not scrapbooking. Avoid funky fonts, clever clip art and other frills.

To read Walton’s entire article click here.

These are just some of the tips that I have picked up while creating my portfolio. What tips and tricks do you have? Let us know!

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Jacob DeChant.

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