Aug 09 Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Job in PR
By Kelly Guin
From graduating college to switching career fields, starting a new job can be intimidating and stressful. Weeks before my start date at LaunchSquad, I remember mulling over everything I might need to know and feeling unsure about how the first day would go. I recall the nerves and uncertainties that come along with embarking on a new stage in life.
One year later, these are the seven lessons I’ve learned that I wish I had known fresh out of school. Learnings that would’ve made for a smoother transition from college to career:
- Learning on the go is okay. Your coworkers are really, really smart, accomplished, and excellent at their job. It can be intimidating to come in with fresh eyes and limited experience, thinking you’re behind the skills and knowledge curve. It’s important to keep in mind that EVERYONE has been there. Your coworkers remember what it was like on their day one, and, especially when asked, will help you out along the way. You don’t need a degree in PR to be successful in the field. In fact, learning on the go is firmly part of the job. People new to PR should act like a sponge and spend the the first few weeks soaking in every single thing possible.
- It’s a team game. One of the great things about PR is that it’s a team sport. Day in and day out, you are a part of a trusted team working to tell the story of an ambitious client. Every team is a support system and has your best interest in mind. You will celebrate the successes and work through challenges together; from early morning pitch parties to late night strategy deck sessions, take comfort in the fact that you’re in the PR trenches together.
- Over-communicate and pay attention to the details. Everyone you work with is busy. They’re all balancing 100 different things and working a mile a minute. It can be easy to lose sight of the tiny details in the midst of a fast-paced environment, but details matter. Being overly communicative with your team can be the saving grace that keeps you one step ahead of the client.
- Actually read the news. I remember when the only news I read was The Skimm. Although this is still a news source I read each day, I’ve learned it’s important to absorb different publications to gain a diversified perspective. Staying up-to-date with current events and timely news in your client’s’ field is part of our job. The more you know, the more you can contribute –– bringing reporters relevant information on what’s important to them and happening NOW can be one the greatest deliverables to your clients.
- Be resilient. Accepting rejection is part of learning to thrive in the fast-moving world of PR. Not every reporter will respond to your pitch (sometimes no one will!) –– and that’s okay. It’s about learning what works and what doesn’t, being authentic to your own voice, building relationships, and honing your craft of the written word. The key attributes of a good PR person: resilience, perspective and determination.
- Share your thoughts and ask questions. Regardless of your level of experience, it’s important to remember you were hired for a reason. The HR department saw something in you they knew would thrive at your company and excel in the world of PR. Teams want to hear your thoughts and understand your perspective on specific things . So share your insights and don’t be afraid to raise questions. Sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful question to completely shift an old way of thinking or strategy for the better.
- Find a mentor. Coworkers are your best resource. The amount of experience, inspiration, and support they can offer is astounding. Find someone you connect with on both a professional and personal level. Learn from watching what they do, how they manage time and work, and how they approach their tasks (from thoughtful strategy to their tactical approach). Days will be busy, but it’s important to set aside time to sit and talk about growth, listen to advice, and learn ways to improve. You might be surprised how a few conversations with the right mentor can change your entire perspective.
What are your tips for making a successful job transition? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @LaunchSquad!