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It’s been more than two years and seven months since I started my career in public relations at our high-tech PR firm. After graduating college, I was one of the lucky ones who immediately joined the work force.
Being a recent graduate and earning “street cred” in your office can be challenging. You’re in a brand-new environment with a bunch of new people, and you want to show that you have “what it takes” to dominate in the PR world. So, as a 20-something, here’s what I’ve learned about how to succeed at that first job in this fast-paced industry:
Soak up information like a sponge. Contrary to popular belief, the most successful people aren’t necessarily Mensa candidates. Sure, being a smarty pants helps. But you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room either. Instead, tap into your inner “sponge” – seek and absorb as much new information as you can. Get obsessive in your quest for data and learn from it.
In PR, this means learning everything about your clients and the ins-and-outs of their messaging, to seamlessly position them to stand out in their market. Then, you want to immerse yourself into every bit of industry news that comes out, so you can discuss trends and opportunities with your clients. Lastly, you should always be receptive to the advice of those who arrived before you. Nothing is more valuable than a person’s experience.
Focus on details, details, details. In PR, no detail is too small – it’s your job to know every single thing about every single thing. That sounds silly, but it’s true. If you worked at McDonald’s you wouldn’t give your customer a cheeseburger with no cheese, right? Well in PR you wouldn’t deliver anything to a client that’s missing essential “ingredients.”
Fortunately, because this is team-oriented career, you’re never alone. Everyone here relies on each other to produce the best results for our clients – from media strategy to pitching to content. For example, in everything we write for clients – press releases, award nominations, speaking abstracts, etc. – we have a “rule” at our firm requiring at least one team member (not the original writer) to review the text before it’s sent out. You can never proofread too much, after all, and a second “set of eyes” often “sees” things that the first pair didn’t.
Thicken your skin. This might be the most important advice I have and trust me, I’m still working on it. In many careers, it’s easy to take feedback and edits personally, especially when you’ve worked hard on content and someone tells you it isn’t perfect. However, remember that everyone has a different perspective and someone’s insight can make your (flawed) “work of art” a masterpiece. My suggested steps for building thicker skin are:
- Remove the “you” from the process. A colleague is not editing you. They’re editing the content.
- Take the feedback and learn from it. We’re lucky to work in a diverse field with many different perspectives.
- Don’t compare your work to others. Everyone produces different material at different levels. Comparisons will only cause jealousy, making it harder to accept criticism.
In my short time here, I’ve learned that human differences and fresh mindsets can serve as a company’s biggest asset. The transition from college to career is more of a hike than a walk in the park. But, with the right set of directions, you’ll move closer to the where you want to be in no time. At W2 Communications, we’re constantly helping young professionals grow as they make the “journey” here with our PR job advice. If you’d like to find out more, then please contact us.
Lauren Jones is an Account Executive for W2 Communications.