Last week, the Publicity Club of New England hosted an event with four industry professionals discussing their career paths, defining moments, and advice for navigating the communications industry. Whether you are just starting out in your career, have been in your role for five to ten years, are looking to make a change, or are just questioning what your next step is to achieve your long-term goals, the below offers excellent insights from panelists at the event.
If you were able to attend this event, you may have noticed a few key pieces of feedback being frequently discussed. This included when to know it’s time to make a professional change, the importance of mentorship, the most important skillsets to develop, learning how to negotiate, and what you should be asking for in reviews – to name a few.
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Below is a roundup from the event that discusses some of these pieces of advice. As PR pros begin to think about their long-term career goals, it’s important to keep these insights top of mind.
1. How to Take the Reins on Your Career
The biggest indicator that it’s time to make a change is when you’ve stopped moving forward, or stopped learning. It’s not necessarily about leaving your company, but finding a new role within your existing organization. Sometimes to make a change, you need to break out of your comfort zone. If you aren’t feeling inspired, or want to try something new, talk to your managers about what elements you can bring into your role, or new teams you can join.
The panelists recommended taking a step back and thinking about what you want your career path to look like. Then think about today – are you feeling inspired, or just going through the motions? Is what you’re doing now helping you achieve your long-term goals?
Takeaway: Take a more holistic view of your career, as early as possible. Don’t just think about where you want to go next, but what you want to be doing long-term.
2. How to Build Relationships as a Mentor or a Mentee
Most people like to talk, bond, and offer their expertise, so if you are looking for a mentor you should never be shy about asking someone you respect to sit down for a chat. It doesn’t need to be a formal process, if you see a pathway to make or deepen a connection, and you have an interest in furthering it, then just reach out. It’s never an imposition to ask if you can sit down with them for a conversation.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes you don’t get a lot of out of a relationship – and that’s ok. You may have a few mentors over the course of your career, some will be more effective than others. But if there is someone who inspires you or that you look up to, don’t hesitate to ask them for their advice.
All of the panelists at the event are currently mentors, and each of them had extremely positive things to say about their experiences. They shared that one of the wonderful things about being a mentor to someone else is that you can do it at any age. Don’t worry about being a mentor if you are young – you could still have valuable skills or experiences that others are looking to learn from. Plus, there is great satisfaction that comes with being a mentor!
Takeaway: If you find someone you want to be your mentor, don’t hesitate to reach out yourself to build the relationship – most people will be excited and honored!
3. Which Skills Sets are Most Important to Develop Early On
Be an early adopter! If you see a new technology coming out that could impact businesses, jump on the bandwagon and learn as much as you can about a new trend or technology. Social media and digital skills are changing the PR game, so it’s important to understand them early, and then be able to leverage them for your clients. Particularly when it comes to metrics – the technology surrounding metrics and measurement have completely changed how you can show the value of PR for your clients.
Aside from technology, skills the panelists all agreed were vital to learn early in a career were speaking and presenting. Not just understanding how to present in front of a client or reporter, but also how to actually develop a strong presentation in PowerPoint, or whichever format you are utilizing.
Takeaway: Develop speaking and presentation skills early, since they will help you throughout your career, and commit to learning new technologies as they gain popularity.
4. What Should You Do When Receiving Critical Feedback in a Review
Everyone has been in a review with their manager and been on the receiving end of critical feedback. But it’s what you do with that feedback that will make a big difference in your career. Our panelists recommended that when you receive that feedback, ask your managers to be specific. Whether you hear you need to work on writing and content, strategy development, or client-facing skills, ask for examples to help understand the feedback in a deeper way. Then ask for the opportunity to work on those skills, and their recommendations on how you can improve. This will show that you are willing to put the work in, want to grow in your role, and are looking to that person for guidance.
If you don’t have the type of relationship with your manager where you think they can help you improve, then go to your mentor or another supervisor you trust. No matter what, self-improvement is not easy to do alone. Address the feedback head on, and find someone you trust to help you work on it.
Takeaway: Feedback is a good thing – it helps you understand where to improve and move forward in your career! Always ask for specific examples and advice on how to take the next step.
While these highlights aren’t all-encompassing of what was learned at this Pub Club event, they’re all prevalent to today’s PR pro working their way through their career. Do you have any unanswered career questions? Let us know @PANcomm.