The question was something like (I’ve generalized)… “after 10 years as a communications generalist in small organizations (often the only communicator), I’d really like to become more specialized in media relations. How do I make that transition? And, will volunteer media relations work help?”
As with all career questions, the personal circumstances and specific education and experience of the person asking need to be considered. (I have answered the person who posed this question directly with more personal advice.)
Generally speaking, I’d suggest considering the following:
– Look at your background education. Do you have specific communications/public relations degrees/diplomas? If not, this might be a good time to add to your credentials. This is frequently a part of my advice to career questions.
– Have you taken specific professional development training in media relations? Spokesperson training? If not, you should definitely do that. And, depending on your job, you may be able to make that a part of your ongoing training for your current role.
– Yes, volunteer experience IS valuable. Always. But, choose carefully and make sure the experience is robust, meaningful and for a project or cause you actually care about. And, then do it to the very best of your ability. For media relations, large events can have good volunteer jobs.
– Choose your next career move carefully. It will be difficult to go from a generalist role in a small organization to a specialized media relations job. Those jobs are usually in larger organizations and require deep, specialized skills. Transitioning is likely to be easier if you move to another generalist role that has more media relations in the role…preferably in a larger organization. Then, work from within to transition to a more specialized role.