Graduating with a degree in Communications or Public Relations (PR) will indeed feel like a great accomplishment when you have your degree in hand. Many students, graduates or young professionals will agree that when it comes to a PR career, it really can be a tug of war scenario where you get pulled in different directions, until you finally find what works for you. There’s the option to work in agency or in-house, but without real knowledge of how it all works, how do you go about making the right decision?
If you are an aspiring PR girl, or in the early stages of your career, but still haven’t found your silver lining, here are some pearls of wisdom to help navigate your PR career.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Before you even begin the job hunting process write this down somewhere: “don’t take anything personally.” As with any creative role, you’ll be asked to come up with a whole bunch of out of the box ideas and work well in a team. This will often be epic campaigns, newsworthy story ideas, client management and working well under tight deadlines.
With this, can come a great deal of internal conflict. You have to learn to manage yourself well when your ideas aren’t received well, or a journalist belittles the relevance of your hard work on a press release.
In theory you might be thinking nothing can shake you, but until you are in this situation, you will find true meaning to these words. If you learn to brush it off quickly before it gets to you, you will develop a thick skin that will give you that Olivia Pope “gladiator status.”
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Seek Environments That Will Foster Your Growth
There was a post on LinkedIn that every young professional and hiring manager/trainer should read:
If we want our juniors lawyers to be great then we need to see things for what they are. In terms of the somewhat unpredictable boss buffet, I was extremely lucky, I started out my legal career with the best possible boss a junior lawyer could have.
I was always supported, never scapegoated or scared to ask questions or admit mistakes. I was given responsibility, lots of client contact and lots of coffee. I was allowed to be me and do things my way (to a reasonable degree and supervised, of course!) The poor man had to put up with me working Beastie Boys references into my first ever firm presentation (admittedly this was for the firm only not for clients). I’ll stir fry you in my wok!
I once remember a client calling me and, after a brief discussion, demanding to be put through to my former boss. My boss took the call and said loudly (so that I could hear him) that everything I’d told the client was correct and he couldn’t have said it better himself.
We all know some lawyers who aren’t good at managing people. But this isn’t good enough because junior lawyers can’t grow into something great unless the senior lawyers around them are willing to support and mentor them, especially in their early years. Eyes on them because their eyes are very likely on you. -Eleni P (Lawyer)
Linking it all back to PR, this reflection from Eleni should serve as a reminder that when you place yourself in the right environment, you will flourish. But if you find yourself hard pressed for options, and in spaces that don’t allow you to grow, never stop searching; whether its through mentors, old college professors or anyone who knows and understands how the PR industry works.
The Learning Never Stops
Just because you have your shiny degree doesn’t make you an automatic PR expert. You have to keep pushing the boundaries and challenging even the very information that was fed down your throat by lecturers, stay hungry and don’t become complacent.
Lerato Chiyangwa, an Account Executive for Djembe Communications and contributing writer for various platforms says: never stop asking questions. If you want to show how valuable you are, consistency and practice are key.
Have a go- to person
Never underestimate the ability of having a go- to person who knows and understands the industry well. This might be a hard one because everyone is so time poor, so it might take a while to find someone who is willing to invest in you and serve as a guide from time to time.
In the meantime, reading articles such as this one is a great place to start. From here you start to unpack different elements of your career journey, take what works for you, leave what doesn’t and keep fighting the good fight.
These are just a few tips to be mindful of when stepping out into the real world and figuring things out for yourself early on in your PR career. Remember, there will be bitter failures along the way, but also success. Take the good with the bad. If PR is what sets your heart on fire every morning, you will find the right fit.
Do you have career tips for an aspiring PR student?
Let us know here.