You made it to the very competitive industry. Bravo! The good news is that you’re lucky to be where you are. The slightly worse is that this wasn’t the easiest part. Getting job is easy when you compare it to being a decent PR pro. Here’s what to do in your first job in order to be on your way of becoming an exceptional practitioner.
#1 Know everything about your clients
Client knowledge is one of the most important things in the new comms job. Know everything about them. Starting from their purpose, to the strategy of the campaign you’re working on. Be aware of their challenges, competitors, and where they sit it the market. Do they have the CSR programme in place? What attitude do media have towards them? Know your key target audience and the key media outlets – read them and follow key journalists on Twitter. It’s important that as a junior member of team you’re able to keep your finger on the pulse and be able to flag any emerging news stories or potential crises.
#2 Be informed
You’ve to read news; get through the papers every day, follow relevant people on Twitter, listen to the Today programme. Set up Google Alerts with the apt keywords. Whenever you’re reading something, think of your client and think how you could put them in the headlines – this is where the client knowledge comes in handy. Don’t limit yourself to your usual news consumption. Try something new. Pick up a magazine that you wouldn’t normally read. PR is about being creative and inspiring others. You’ll never know what ideas might come to your mind after reading Farmers Weekly, or listening to the Gardeners’ Question Time.
#3 Have mentors
I don’t think people got the idea of ‘mentorship’ right. Mentorship is not solely about one-on-one meetings with a ‘mentor.’ It’s fantastic if you can arrange these, but the more senior person you’d like to meet, the harder it gets. Instead, I suggest treating the idea of mentorship more flexibly. Your boss is your mentor – learn from him or her. Every colleague your work with is your mentor. An author of the books you’ve read is your mentor, too. Chase Jarvis, Casey Neistat, and Biz Stone are my mentors. Not that they’re aware of it, but the content they’ve made taught me a lot. And that’s what matters. Look around you, listen, and take every opportunity to learn.
Living in your own bubble is not beneficial for you. Neither for your team, nor for your clients. Go out there and network. Meet other PR people and exchange your opinions. Events such as PRCA Member Drinks or CIPR DrinknLink are fantastic way to connect with other pros. Try meeting journalists and pick up their brains – see whether they’d have an interest in covering your client. Take your time to get to know your colleagues, too. Try to step away from your desk during the lunchtime and arrange coffees. PR is all about building rapport and relationships.
#5 Stay curious
Don’t take your job for granted. Working in comms is exciting! You’ll constantly have to be coming up with ideas and stay open minded. But no one is born creative. You have to work on your creativity. Try new things and learn new skills. Visit your local art gallery (or go to the Bankside’s Tate), go for a run, or revisit skills you’ve not worked for a while (just like I’ve done with photography — visit my Instagram, where I’m on the mission of becoming a better photographer).
Working in PR is one of the best things that happened to me. My job gives me everything I need. I develop many skills every day, I can be creative, and I continue to learn about media. Getting a PR job was easy in comparison to being exceptional in it. But as long as passion, dedication, and skills follow, everything is possible.
A picture in the header depicts one of my favourite places in London — the Tate Modern.
If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at] gmail.com, tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!