So you got a job at a PR firm—great! Congrats!
Image from Tamarack - An Institute for Community Engagement used under CC license.
But be advised, working at a PR firm is challenging. It’s a demanding job that requires creativity, multi-tasking and technical know-how. Why do some survive and thrive from day one? Here are five tips to ensure your future success at your new PR firm:Be Open. Too many times in my career I have not been open to new ideas or approaches. This is a bad thing. Being open to different ideas and approaches can be hard—there’s often this thing called “ego” that gets in the way. But, you’ve got to put your ego aside and be open to make it at a PR agency. Agencies are collaborative by nature and if your ego is too big for the room, you will likely be looking for a new job soon. If you talk a lot, shut up and listen to others. Don’t be dismissive of their perspectives, but engage them and ask questions.
Be Aware. Curious and inquisitive people do well at PR agencies because they are always on the hunt for new approaches and ideas. They are on the leading edge of “doing it differently” and clients like that. Embrace your inquisitiveness and avoid the trap of ignoring what’s happening in your industry or you will become obsolete at your firm. Spend some time each week dedicated to exploring the changes in your industry and the latest innovations. What are other companies like your client doing or not doing? What are other PR agencies doing that is cool and different and how can you apply it to your work?
Be Playful. PR agencies are supposed to be creative. Yes, there is a serious side to what we do, we are, after all, working on behalf of clients and that is to be respected. And, you want to do a good job, understood, OK! But, you also need to loosen up a bit. First off, no one wants to work with people that don’t have a lighter side. Second, it’s scientifically proven that people that have more fun at work, typically deliver more creativity in their projects. Engage in a little play on your team and reap the benefits of a closer team with more creative output on behalf of clients. And clients like that.
Don’t be Stale. I don’t know how many times we have companies come to us saying that their old PR team was “stale.” If you are finding that what you or your team is doing is becoming rote, then it is time to mix it up. Processes are important to agencies but don’t let it make your work stale or kill the creativity that your client relishes. How can you innovate your process? What new trick can you add to the mix? How can you improve the current methodology? PR firms and clients reward those who are constantly improving. Don’t be stale.
Find Your Voice. Often when you begin a new job or career, you tend to mute your personality and your voice until you find your sea legs—and that’s not a bad thing. But remember that this is a PR agency and we thrive on discussion. Being shy is not the way to get ahead. Immerse yourself and be a part of the discussion. Speak from what you know and don’t pretend you know more than what you do. Be genuine in your approach to team brainstorms and meetings. Engage with your team members and your clients and you will go far.
One last tip for getting comfortable at your new public relations job is be comfortable being uncomfortable!