I asked seven PR experts one question: “What is the single most important thing you would say to a person starting a new job in PR?”
Here are their answers and tips.
Adam Vincenzini of Paratus Communications (and PR Daily):
Aim to be two things: proactive and useful. Being proactive will help you in your client, media, and co-worker relationships—even if it is a simple thing like updating people on the things you’re responsible for before you are asked. Being useful applies to those relationships as well. The more useful you are, the more trusted you become.
Allan Barr of The Big Partnership:
New PR professionals should immerse themselves in digital and social media channels from an early stage.
It shouldn’t be news to anyone that PRs need to have a good knowledge of the social space in order to be truly effective these days. With the number of traditional news outlets dwindling with every passing day and an ever increasing emphasis being placed on reaching audiences via social media, being able to deliver your client’s messages via online channels is only going to be become more important.
As communications professionals, good PRs already have many of the skills required to be effective when it comes to social media, but unless they invest the time in learning how to properly leverage channels—such as blogging, Twitter, and Facebook—they run the very real risk of becoming dinosaurs in this new digital landscape.
Using these tools for clients is all well and good, but blogging and tweeting in a personal capacity is the best way to hone your skills.
You can more from Barr on his blog.
Andrew Worob of Ruder Finn:
Don’t. Ever. Get. Complacent.
No matter how much success you may experience—and I hope it’s a lot—there’s nothing sadder than seeing someone lose the edge that they once had—that inner fire to want to do as well as humanly possible regardless of the task at hand.
Whether you just secured a huge media placement for a client or you led the effort to build up a brand’s Facebook community, you can still do better the next time around.
The learning in PR never stops, and you’ll always meet someone who knows just a little more about something than you do. Take that as a challenge. Strive to exceed previous milestones. While the results may not always be the same, your effort will be.
Read more from Worob on his blog, PR at Sunrise.
Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich:
My best tip for a new PR pro?
Ask lots of questions and read everything you can get your hands on.
When I started in the agency business, part of my job was to create the clip books of all the stories our team had generated. Because they wanted color copies, I stood in front of the color copier for hours. Because it took four or five minutes to make each copy, I read every single one of the stories. It eventually got me a promotion because I knew so much about the client’s business.
Read more from Dietrich on her blog, Spin Sucks.
Jayme Soulati of Soulati Media:
In their own right, public relations practitioners are highly connected on social media channels.
When commencing a new position, regardless of level of expertise or seniority, use a thoughtful approach to social media for the first month on a new job. Ensure that your activity and engagement level do not interfere with that of your new company. Be highly aware of social media policies that exist at each organization where you work, and adhere to those rules or risk getting red flagged by the legal department.
Watch the tone of tweets and Facebook posts to ensure they are professional and neutral. If part of your job description is about managing social media, then put your personal marketing aside during business hours and maintain the company brand between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anything you say online will be monitored by your new company, whether or not you’re wearing the company hat.
Read more from Soulati on her blog, Soulati-‘TUDE!
Jerry Silfwer of Whispr Group:
Think of your competencies like a toolbox. What tools do you have? How good are they? Do you need to add any?
Being a communicator by trade requires several skills in combination with each other. Versatility is a tremendous asset to your employer.
For instance, make sure you quickly learn how to write in different forms: meeting notes, client emails, press releases, blog pitches, etc. Think of your writing as a drilling machine and the different forms of writing as drills in different sizes.
Also, make sure you can present yourself and your toolbox in 10, 30, and 60 seconds, depending on the situation. Dress appropriately and train excessively in front of a mirror. Being presentable is like having your toolbox in order, ready to use at any time.
In starting your career, it’s all about making yourself useful despite your lack of experience. So make sure you have a lot of basic tools ready for every situation. This will give you access to important projects where you can produce value and learn rapidly at the same time!
Read more from Silwer on his blog, Doktor Spinn.
Jody Koehler of Coopr (and PR Daily Europe):
My advice for newbies within a PR agency is always to L.E.A.D., meaning, “Listen, Experience, Ask, and Dare.”
I believe that you go through certain, overlapping stages when entering a new PR job at an agency. Listening will always be the starting point.
That’s stage one, so try to grow bigger ears in that first period. Listen to seniors, partners, juniors, and clients. Try to receive as much information as possible. Without really realizing it, you are now also experiencing how things work at the agency. That’s a good thing!
Try to do as many chores, even the annoying ones, as you can. You’ll benefit from it later on. Really, you will. We have all been there.
Then, feel free to ask all the questions you have. Don’t be afraid to ask them, even if they amount to 10-or 50-questions a day. Asking questions is so important. Try to get all the information you need to feel comfortable. Listen to conversations, experience meetings, ask questions, and learn from it.
When you feel ready to make a difference—be sure to CRUSH IT! You have to share your thoughts, doubts, ideas, advice, and energy. Daring is crucial for PR newbies.
Actually, that’s probably the reason why they hired you in the first place: To make a difference.
I know, skills are important. But as an agency owner, I hunger for passion. That will make you stand out and, eventually, it will get you your dream job in PR!