By Jessie Johnson, The Pollack Group Summer Intern
Trying to find your way in the public relations world is intimidating. However, there are several things you can do to create success for yourself. The following are not the only routes to success, but these are among the top tips most professionals will agree with.
1. Be A “Jack/Jill Of All Trades”
Being a “Jack (or Jill) of all trades” is something to be embraced and adds value to your portfolio. Aside from being a good writer, strategist and communicator, a sought-after professional should have knowledge and experience in several fields. Some things to consider in order to boost your credentials are social media management, digital and social media marketing, video editing, Photoshop, analytics, and even business management. This puts you in a position to expand the kind of work you do, as well as make favorable impressions on clients and bosses with your versatility.
2. Constantly Observe The World Around You
This piece of advice is two-fold: “environmental scanning” and taking note of strategic thinking and direction. There is a term in public relations called ‘environmental scanning’ (or some variation thereof), which is applicable to everyday PR or crisis communications. What this means is that it is your job to know what is happening in the industry, internally and externally. It means anticipating what could go wrong and strategizing accordingly, anticipating reactions from all primary and secondary audiences, or reacting to external factors that may hurt or help your client. Having this skill will keep you one step ahead of the game and will serve a distinguishing quality as you grow in your career.
The second part is observing the world around you through the lens of a PR analyst. As you scroll through your social media, you will tend to discern marketing messages throughout your day or read about companies in the news – and then pay close attention. Take into consideration the images that are used, the language, how other people react, and the targeting strategy. By doing this, you are teaching yourself which strategies are succeeding, which prove most effective in different scenarios and mediums, and which are simply a waste of money.
3. Develop Your Network
Developing your network and social capital is important, as it may advance your career even more than your education and work experience will. As you change jobs, attend events, and engage with different clients, you are being given an opportunity to expand your network. This is not an opportunity to add influential people to your LinkedIn or exchange information. Rather, if you have a good conversation with someone, then follow up or ask to meet up again –you may have a future opportunity at developing a relationship or, at the very least a referral source.
4. Hone In On Your Writing Skills
Most job postings you see will have “excellent written and oral communication skills” as a requirement. In public relations, excellent writing skills are a must. You can spend a large portion of your day writing press releases, emails, pitches and more, and the way you convey your message in your writing is one of the most vital parts of succeeding in PR. Even in the digital age, writing skills are very much a necessity because you may find yourself writing editorial content, speeches, social media content, emails, media reports, and so on. Luckily, writing is a skill that you can improve on with practice and experience as you grow in your career.
5. Develop Your Online Brand
First impressions are important, and they usually begin online. Job applications often ask you for a link to your personal website, portfolio, LinkedIn page, or other online platform that will illustrate your professionalism as well as your personality. If you don’t provide a link, recruiters will just search you anyway. It is not uncommon to meet people online before ever meeting them in person, so networking can happen via social media as well. In both of these cases, having a developed online brand allows you to control what people see about you and how that information is conveyed. You are in charge of your image and reputation, and it is crucial that you have an active role in promoting your expertise and aptitudes online to prospective bosses, peers, and clients.