I never dreamed of going into PR.
I aspired to become a nurse, but when I was preparing to apply to nursing school, I studied abroad in Europe.
As I traveled to different countries, I became fascinated with cultures and the ways in which people interact. I realized that communication affects everything in our everyday lives and beyond. When I returned home, I switched my major to journalism and PR. Because of my winding road into the industry, I’m passionate about mentoring young PR pros.
For communicators who are just starting out, here are some things I wish I had known when I got my first PR job:
1. Read to stay on top. Read as much as you can, particularly from publications that are important to your clients and their industries. It’s a valuable way for you to get to know reporters, the topics they cover and trends that matter.
Set up alerts, sign up for newsletters and bookmark relevant pages. Develop a routine; start with 30 minutes a day.
2. Multitask, or go home. There will be days when your first job feels more like juggling than PR. In a span of 30 minutes, you could track and send media coverage, manage launch logistics (where one misstep could be detrimental), research, build a database, submit an award and tweet a live webinar.
To accomplish it all, you have to learn to prioritize. Do this by asking questions so you can understand what must take precedence. Learn how to tackle your to-do list quickly, yet meticulously. It will take time, but you’ll get there.
3. Be accountable. When you’re part of a team, being accountable for your actions and decisions is crucial—and it definitely gets noticed.
When each team member is accountable, there is more trust and ownership. This leads to a team with better performance, communication and creativity. Remember that we’re all human and make mistakes. When a misstep occurs, learn from the situation and move forward with new insights.
4. Organization is paramount. Organization is the top skill you must have to be successfully begin a PR career. With so many moving parts—including details, deadlines and meetings—organization can be a huge challenge. Quickly determine how you can be productive and tightly manage.
It might be writing everything down in a checklist, using tools such as TeuxDeux or sending yourself calendar invites for crucial tasks. Whatever your style, figure it out fast. If you’re not organized from the start, it will be a tough road for you and your colleagues.
5. Pay attention to details. Whether it’s a formal email to a client or a casual message to a team member, details are important. Nothing will drive your team crazier than emails with typos or mistakes, so proofread everything.
In addition, re-read the emails you receive to ensure that you fully understand directions. Don’t assume that you already know what someone means. Fact check everything you can (Google is your friend). If you’re working on a big project or important email, walk away for a few minutes to clear your mind.
If you don’t focus and pay attention to details, your mistakes could define you.
6. Pick up the phone. There are many ways to communicate: Email, Slack, Skype, texts and Twitter are just a few. I promise that calling works, too.
Don’t hesitate to call a reporter, client, colleague or partner. Phone communication offers a human element that can help you set the stage for a deeper connection. Make sure a day doesn’t go by where you haven’t had a truly “offline” conversation.
Even veteran PR pros can learn something new each day. Remember to have fun and smile as you learn, and take the time to find the right environment where you are surrounded by coworkers you admire and who motivate you. The end result is having great people to learn from and becoming a better PR pro in the process.
Danielle Salvato-Earl is a director at Kulesa Faul. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this story originally appeared on the agency’s blog and on Glassdoor’s blog. Check out opportunities to join the Kulesa Faul team here.