“Older and wiser.”
We’ve all heard that phrase and maybe even used it when doling out career advice to those just starting out, but, as many of PR veterans realize, there was a time when we didn’t have the experience to know better.
It could have been a lapse in judgment, ignoring a burgeoning trend (Anyone remember referring to the Internet as “the worldwide Web?” I do.) or through that often combustible mix of youth and bravado, we thought we could do it better than anyone else, especially our superiors.
Today, I couldn’t be happier with my own career path as a communications strategist and PR/pop culture expert, but it took some twists and turns along the way to get there. It got me thinking about what others may have experienced. I set to the task of canvassing successful PR and communication pros and received extremely insightful and truthful responses.
It can be tough to look back and remember your mistakes, but not if you eventually learn from them, and better yet, pass on that good advice.
Behind the curve
“I would have pushed at staying ahead of tech communication trends and getting established in them, says Ya’ara Saks, Toronto-based communications professional and political analyst. “With the wealth of options and individuals talking on line, it’s much more of a challenge to be relevant. Once it’s out there your ability to manage your message is harder unless you are ahead of the curve and build an audience beyond the traditional PR contact list.”
Striking the wrong note
As a former journalist, Missouri-based communications pro Matt Lacasse had a well-entrenched, “newsy” writing style.
“I should have sought out more guidance on how to adopt my tone to whichever audience I was targeting,” he says. “That sounds super basic, but I think it would have changed some things in my first PR job.”
Skipping from job to job in search of that better title or salary is something many of us pursued in our younger years.
“Looking back, it would’ve been a good career move to hit some of the largest agencies sooner and work on bigger clients with larger budgets,” says Jayme Soulati, president of Soulati Media in Dayton, Ohio. “Having more business knowledge about running a company or business modeling would have been helpful. I know that decision to be the boss at an impressionable point in my own career path was likely poor timing.”
Finding a mentor
“One thing I wish I had done much earlier in my career was to find a mentor to provide guidance along the way, particularly when I was starting out and later in my career when transitioning from consulting back to a more traditional PR job,” said Danielle Côté, director of communications for Consumer Health Products Canada in Ottawa.
Stacy O’Rourke, communications manager for Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation in Halifax, agrees that career mentors have made her the PR professional she is today. “If anything, I would capitalize on all of that to learn and experience more.”
Push past the doubt
“If I had to do it all over again, I would have set more aggressive goals and taken bigger risks,” says Karen Swim, PR, marketing and communications consultant in Michigan. “I would have dreamed bigger and actively worked to make my vivid vision a reality. I would have shoved down that nagging voice of doubt a lot earlier in life and gone for my goals no matter how ridiculous or impossible it may have seemed in the moment.”
Do you have any others to add?