This article originally appeared on Bulldog Reporter.
As PR practitioners, we have gained skills that we can apply to our own personal careers. We’re used to promoting our clients’ products, their executives and even their ideas. We know how to convey their expertise, set client goals, and package up corporate successes to share with the world. But when it comes to getting promoted, I often see PR practitioners sit back and wait for a promotion. They fail to use their PR skills to move up the ladder. Consider the following five steps to propel your career forward in 2013.
- Identify your area of expertise: One of the first things we ask our clients is, “what is your area of expertise, what are your differentiators?” While PR practitioners are often expected to be knowledgeable in every facet of PR--from media relations, writing, planning, social media and client relations (to name just a few)-- the key to success for people and companies, is to identify an area where you shine. While yes, you need to be skilled across all areas of the job, it can help advance your career if you’re able to carve out a special niche for yourself. Just as we advise clients to position themselves as experts in a particular area, position yourself as an expert resource to your colleagues and managers, and let them know where your passion lies.
- Fill a Void: You’ll often hear CEOs say, “we launched this company because there was a void in the market.” Well you might also notice there is a void within your agency and turn that into an opportunity--just as your client has. While you might immediately know your area of expertise, some of you may be questioning where you should focus your efforts. Consider the needs of your organization and if there is a current gap you can fill. Look at the market landscape--what are clients asking for in their PR programs? At many PR agencies, becoming an expert in areas that are new to veterans, such as the ins and outs of Facebook, Pinterest or video production, can help you stand out. Consider filling a void from a strategic level and positioning yourself to meet that need, to help shoot up the career ladder.
- Set Goals: A good PR firm always sets goals with its clients. What you may consider success and what your client may consider success, may be very different. That’s why it’s critical to agree to program goals. While you may have set career goals for yourself, it’s essential that you convey these to your managers and human resources. Go a step further and ask your managers to help set agreed upon objectives. Next, set a timeframe to accomplish those goals and make sure you capture clear metrics in writing. While this may seem obvious, make sure you understand the goal being set and exactly what your manager is looking for in order to bring you to the next level. While your company should have a review process where your career goals are discussed, don’t feel as though you need to wait for a formal annual review. Just like we do with clients, we sometimes stop and evaluate if the goals need to be reset. If you’re ramping up for a promotion, show your managers that you’re thinking about your goals and the path ahead on a regular basis.
- Promote yourself first: Let’s be honest, many companies call themselves market leaders, before they are actually there. However, positioning a company as a leader and having the proof points to back it up, can help propel a company to new levels of exposure. Often the key to getting promoted in the PR world and really any job, is to show that you can perform at the next level, by taking on that role before your official promotion. In other words “going above and beyond the call of duty.” Volunteer to take on some responsibilities of the role you’re aiming towards. If you have proven success taking on responsibilities of the next level, your managers will feel confident that you’re ready for a promotion.
- Showcase your results: The job of a PR practitioner is to showcase the successes of their client, including their customer wins, new product innovations or analyst validation. If you work in PR, you can bet that your managers are busy people. They may know you do a great job, but they probably don’t keep a list of your accomplishments on their desk. Also, with PR often being a team effort, your personal successes can sometimes be lost. While being humble and a team player is often the way to go, you should also be ready to showcase your results when you’re ready for a promotion. There is no need to hire a lawyer to make your case, instead set up a time to meet with your managers and discuss why you feel you’re ready for the next level. The key is to come to the meeting prepared with tangible evidence that you’re ready to climb the ladder. Be ready to showcase your solid media relationships and top-tier coverage, point to specific examples of how you have already stepped into the role you’re vying for, and finally talk about why you’re an asset to the company and what skills you have that would be difficult to replace. Just like you would when representing a client, be ready to have your validation points ready.
Getting to the next level in the PR field takes perseverance. But in the PR role, we gain skills that we can transfer over to our careers and even our personal lives. Communication, whether it’s for a client, or on your own behalf, is critical. Setting goals, accomplishing them and communicating the results, can help you advance up the ladder in 2013.