When you navigate the choppy waters of the PR world, you have to be the press and the person who deals with the press all at once.
This can be a tricky juggling act if you’re just beginning to spread your wings in the PR world. Luckily, with the right attitude and preparation, you can build yourself into a PR powerhouse.
1. Join the Public Relations Student Society of America
The PRSSA has over 10,000 members and even more opportunities for anyone aspiring to be part of the PR world. Once you’re a member, you can interact and learn from PR pros all over the world. The PRSSA can also help connect you with potential internships and job interviews.
2. Follow brands you admire
The firm Weber Shandwick advises that you start following your favorite brands on social media. Following your favorites not only helps solidify your online presence, it provides you insight and inspiration. In the communication world, following trends and messages you admire can ignite the best ideas you could ever have.
3. Stretch out of your comfort zone
Many new grads are used to showing up for class at 10, taking their time finishing projects, and spending free time at the quad or local bar. Agency life is nothing like that. Weber Shandwick points out that prioritization skills, writing, and extreme attention to detail are more important that creative flair or a bubbly smile. If you don’t know where to start, Mind Tools offers free time management resources that can be applied to most professions. If you can stretch outside your comfy regimen, face your fears, and manage all aspects of your life, you’re almost ready to take a plunge into the real world.
4. Build your brand collateral, and keep it sharp
By way of your dry cleaner and business card printer, you are your brand. Your portfolio is always a work in progress, and you are an extension of your portfolio. You must be conscientious of the way you build your online following—and what you have to show offline. PR expert Andrew Worob tells Higher-and-Higher.com that the best way to master the PR game is: “Don’t. Ever. Get. Complacent.” Apply this doctrine to your business cards, social media profiles, wardrobe, and networking habits.
5. Master the first impression
Business Insider points out that only 7 percent of what we think of people is based on what they say. Furthermore, within seven to 17 seconds, the person you just met has already made up his or her mind about you. Whether you’re at a networking event or a major interview; be ready with a warm smile, firm handshake, appropriate eye contact, and a confident tone. You could be the best person for the job, yet lose it to someone with better face-to-face demeanor.
6. Be conscientious
PR powerhouse Jayme Soulati advises not to get comfortable just because you landed a job. That’s only the first step. Soulati warns that you must be very careful what you post, tweet, or even comment on during work hours. Even if the company you work for is aware of your “outside projects” or personal branding ambitions-leave them out of your 9-to-5 routine.
PR pro Jody Koehler shares his best advice for newbies: L.E.A.D, or “Listen, Experience, Ask, and Dare.” He recommends that new hires grow their ears as big as possible—learn from higher-ups, owners, and everyone they can. Then, experience as many roles and duties as you can; you want to know how the agency works. When you have a handle on it, start asking questions. Gain all the information you can, so you’re ready to “dare” to take a step and make a difference. When you’re at this point, stop and remember that your “daring to make a difference” is why you were hired in the first place.
Meaghan McClellan is the CEO of a small PR firm on the East Coast. She loves running with her dogs on the beach, sailing and reading about the tech industry. A version of this article first appeared on Culpwrit.