How PR Professionals Can Switch Industries
When I joined CJP almost eight months ago, I wasn't sure how my transition into financial services public relations was going to go. Coming from a three-year upbringing in consumer public relations, where blogger/media relationships and fluffy social media campaigns are pivotal, I wasn't sure now I would succeed at quickly building relationships with publications like The Wall Street Journal or handling all media efforts for global investment banking conferences. I was more attuned to the need for content at Marie Claire and to planning media efforts for my clients at CES.
Luckily, I quickly realized that the fundamental skills of our profession are the same regardless of our specialty. I found more tasks to be the same rather than different, and I realized that half of my battle in this transition was already won. I had a strong public relations skill set and I loved media relations–I just had to learn the financial end of the transition.
So how did I learn that side? A lot of it, I learned from plain and simple asking. I think people forget that asking is very powerful, but when you are learning a new specialty, you have to ask for advice, ask for contacts, ask for help, ask Josh Passman. Like with anything else, you have to educate yourself, research, listen, watch, and network with people in your new path. It helped me tremendously to tap my friends who work in investment banking and who are pros in other areas of finance. Sometimes hearing from a close friend what could otherwise be complicated information or terms, makes it much easier to understand.
I also enrolled for an investment banking fundamentals course, which helped organize a lot of information in my head, give shape and make sense out of everything I was learning. I highly recommend enrolling in a class or two that explores the essentials of the specialty you're transitioning into.
Don't be afraid to leverage the unique perspective you have coming from a different PR specialty. In my short time at CJP, I've already been able to offer my previous expertise to colleagues with clients who are looking for it. When you are switching industries, just make sure you have a passion for that industry–the PR skills and competencies are transferable into any field, and in the end, every PR pro learns to know the ins and outs of his or her clients' business.