21 Jul 5 Tips For An Aspiring PR Pro
People often ask me why I decided to pursue a career in public relations, or even what a public relations professional does. I always admit that it was my love for writing and the ability to effectively get a company’s message out to the media that drew me in. But some go on to say, “Isn’t that easy? All you do is write press releases and tweet, right?” My answer is always, “You don’t know the half of it.”
Countless hours are spent finding the right reporters and publications in order to achieve each clients’ goals, including pitching news announcements, developing thought leadership campaigns, etc. Once a reporter has been pitched, that does not even guarantee that they will interview or cover your client. If they do decide to cover your client, countless more hours are spent tracking the effectiveness of the interview or article you secure. Google Alerts fill your inbox each time a client is mentioned in the news, weekly reports creep up on your calendar, deadlines approach – the short of it is that PR takes a strong person to persevere.
PR is not an easy field to break into. One does not simply decide to become a PR professional overnight. It takes practice, dedication, hard work, blood, sweat, tears….you get the picture. As a recent graduate of North Carolina State University’s PR program and four internships later, I know the process well. I’m currently living it. From what I’ve gleaned thus far from my internships and communication classes, I have put together a list of the top five vital tips to start a successful career in PR:
- Networking is the heart of PR
We are communication professionals after all. Being able to communicate with coworkers, clients, administration, future employers, etc., is an inherent part of our career. Frankly, for a good PR pro, it should pump through your veins. A recent survey showed that 85% of all jobs were filled through networking. PR is not for the faint of heart, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there and make a new connection, you may land a new client or professional partner.
- Keep your resiliency
Everyone says PR is easy, right? It has its rewarding moments, but it often comes with challenges. Let’s say that you spend hours developing an amazing media list, pitch your news to each of the reporters, but no one seems interested. Your client doesn’t get the coverage that they want and deserve. As a PR pro, you can’t sulk and be sad that no one was interested. A good PR pro would evaluate and figure out their mistakes in order to seek other opportunities. Perhaps next time, they offer these media outlets an exclusive to pique their interest, or maybe they reword a few things and offer an authored, contributed article to the media from a thought leader in the industry. Regardless of the solution or situation, a key to being a successful PR pro is to not see failure, but to seize every available opportunity.
- Channel your inner SpongeBob
Be a sponge! – Yes, college courses and internships are both places that can lay down a great foundation of PR knowledge, but there is always an opportunity to absorb more knowledge. Each agency/PR department does things differently, so it is always good to be ready to take on new challenges with an open mind. Make sure to bring your own knowledge, ideas and thoughts to the table, but don’t be afraid to listen to suggestions from your coworkers. Plus, the more professional development opportunities you take advantage of now, means you will be better equipped to take on new challenges in the future.
- Know your industry
I had a very limited knowledge of the tech industry when I first came to SpeakerBox. For the first few days, my main task was to do “industry reading” on my clients in order to better prepare myself to tackle client work. Once you know the fundamentals of PR itself, the next big challenge is to keep up with your specific industry. Sure, you may be a great writer, but it takes knowledge of the industry itself to develop meaningful content for the client. This can take some time, but as you delve deeper into the industry, you get to be more familiar with media contacts, publications and the overall terminology related to the client.
- Find your rhythm
Find out exactly how you best work. Some find it most helpful to keep a detailed, color-coded, second-by-second to-do list, while others simply keep a running list with no rhyme or reason to the order of tasks. I must confess that I am still learning my own work style, but tend to lean toward the latter, more jumbled list. Also, finding ways to channel energy in your down time is also key to developing a rhythm both at your desk and after hours. My personal favorite way to wind down after a long day, as anyone at SpeakerBox will tell you, is yoga. Yes, a nice paycheck is always great, but don’t forget to take time to recharge and rejuvenate.
Regardless of where you are in your career, remember why you chose this exhilarating field to begin with. It has its challenges, but at the end of the day never forget to have fun! It’s a process and a journey. Take it one media list at a time and enjoy the ride. Happy Pitching!