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Diving into PR: 5 Unexpected Tips

Meg McDermott

Graduating from college, entering the “real world,” and starting at any job is intimidating. Suddenly there is no syllabus with a clear rubric of how to land a good grade on an assignment that’s due on a specific date. Your schedule condenses from a flexible week of classes and studying at your own pace to a strict window during which you are answering to clients, attending meetings, completing deliverables and finding proactive ways to further your own and your clients’ success. While you will learn the ropes of public relations through training and experience, there are a few aspects of PR that don’t always come naturally:

  • Observe and Take Notes: The expectation of this task often goes without saying. You never know when a client or colleague will rely on your diligence to have taken detailed notes during a meeting. Not only does this supplement your absorption of the points being discussed, but it also ensures you have all of the information in one place to reference when it becomes relevant down the road. Reflect on and pull from your notes periodically to make sure you don’t let anything fall by the wayside. This especially holds true after client meetings, when bigger ideas are expressed in the effort to convey strong messages.
  • Get Coffee: Whether this is with a colleague or a reporter, grabbing coffee, lunch or even just going for a walk provides a distinct timeframe during which you can get answers to all of your burning questions. Reporters want to hear who you are working with and what their goals are, so give them a little bit of insight and in turn gather what you can about the landscape of their future work while fostering a relationship for one or multiple clients of yours. Regardless of your method, you will be chasing reporters one way or another so why not add a human element to your outreach? As for colleagues, it is especially important when you are first starting at any job to get to know your teammates. Everyone excels in different areas and collaborating among your peers will ultimately help you deliver the best finished product. Chances are your colleague has an interesting story as to how they reached their current role and hearing about their career experience can shed light on how taking on different endeavors can shape your path.
  • Raise your Hand: If you see an opportunity to jump in and spearhead something new – offer your ideas! No job should ever become monotonous to the point that fulfilling a robotic sequence will get the task done. There will always be a more efficient, creative, better way to operate and what better perspective than that from the fresh mind of a newcomer. In addition to sharing your opinions, raise your hand in several endeavors across the board to get a taste of everything out there. You won’t learn what you excel at and what you need to work on until you have tried it all.
  • Over Communicate: You may feel self-conscious asking a question or oversharing but it’s imperative to always speak up. It’s surprising how many times a seemingly minute question opens up a window of dialogue among your teammates that are seeking the same answers. Ask questions to be sure what is expected of you so that you can meet and surpass expectations.
  • Read Everything: Okay, maybe not everything – but pick a few priority publications in your clients’ space and make sure you understand what the articles are discussing. If you don’t, make sure you are reading up on background until you reach a point that say, The Wall Street Journal, is speaking your language. Once you reach that point, stay on top of trends and themes. If you are able to suggest to a client that you foresee a top-tier publication focusing on X and can position your client to fit within that theme, you will be far ahead of the curve.

The public relations world involves – as does any industry – its own quirks and nuances that won’t become second nature right off the bat. But similar to studying any course in school, you will learn the ins and outs with studying and practice. The above tips will help to foster growth in any job context while establishing yourself in the “real world.”

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