Congratulations! You made it through many years of surviving on ramen, two hours of sleep (if you’re lucky) and a slew of term papers and tests. You even landed your dream job as a real life PR professional! Well done! Now is where the real “adulting” begins. You might have to move out of your parents’ house, probably have to pay a couple of your own bills and (gasp) go to the grocery! While I can’t help you with those things, I can give you a few tips on how to ace your first year as a PR pro.
Take Some Risks.
Seems simple in theory, but it’s actually a lot more intimidating when you actually have to do it. Talking to clients, colleagues and reporters when you are first getting started will be scary, but making sure you share your ideas and thoughts will pay off in the end. It will show you have initiative and thinking outside the box can also lead to some really great story and pitch ideas too.
This. Is. Key. I struggled with this a lot when I first started and sometimes I still do. Knowing which projects take precedent over others and what tasks to handle first will help your productivity immensely and keep your bosses and clients happy. If you take one tip from this post- it’s this one.
Learn To Accept and Welcome Criticism.
Trust me when I say people are not picking on you. Public relations is a team effort. There are managers, senior account executives, account executives, coordinators and assistants all on the same accounts sometimes. The success of clients is never the sole responsibility of one team member so when a colleague gives you constructive criticism on a pitch, release or an campaign idea, do not take it to heart. It’s to help you become a PR beast and so you can pass along that knowledge to the other newbies one day. It will be very helpful your first year to ask other people at your same level and above you to read your pitches and other materials and give their thoughts. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Build a Reliable Media List.
Something I learned just this year that I think would have helped me when I first started out is the importance of building lasting and reliable media relationships. Take the time to “study” what reporters and writers in your fields like/dislike. Pay attention to what they cover- what they don’t cover. Sending them relevant pitches will increase your chances of responses and coverage and they will begin to rely on you for quality sources and material. Even take time to check in with them when you aren’t pitching them to say “hi”, see what they have in the works or send them a link to something they might like. Paying attention and being genuine will go a long way. Besides, our whole job is about creating and maintaining relationships with media- building your own base of contacts will help you out for many years to come no matter which company you end up at.
That’s my tip. Write as much as you can. The more you write, the easier it will become. Press releases will take less time, pitches will practically write themselves and one day when you have to write for the company blog (like this one), it will be a piece of cake. Writing is something that becomes easier with practice and truthfully, we write all day, every day, so learning to become an efficient writer will be crucial to your success.
All this aside, PR is a fast-paced, ever-changing and exciting profession. It can be a challenging industry but also very rewarding. So, don’t be afraid to dive right in, take some risks and enjoy the ride. In the words of Daniel Boorstin, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire public relations officers.” Take that as a compliment and a boost of confidence and get out there and kill it!