6 Career-Saving Tips for Surviving Your First Years at a PR Agency

 

Working at a PR agency is tough, even if you’ve been in PR for a good while. However, if you’re just now getting tangled up in this mess, things are bound to be all the more hectic. Fortunately, you’re no pioneer in this craft. Many have come before you and, undoubtedly, many will come after. If others can do it, so can you.

Needless to say, it’s always nice to get a bit of help along the way to numb the growing pains that innately accompany initiation into PR. If a bit of a novice or looking for some help to get through a rough patch, the following points are sure to help:

1) Earnestly Seek New Learning Opportunities

In particular, from those who tower over you in the hierarchy of your agency’s leadership ladder. What’s great about PR is that it’s rarely about how many degrees or certificates you hold; moreover, it’s about what you’ve managed to do or experiences you’ve had in the past. 

When your boss or coworker needs help with something you feel might be just outside your comfort zone, choose to become involved, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines. Participate in all that the industry has to offer. Soon enough, this sort of thing may very well form your future.

2) Decide to See the Good In Failure

Yes, this is actually a decision that you must consciously make. Believe it or not, this is easier said than done. If ever there was a career path filled with repetitive facepalms, it would be PR. At least initially, if you’re not saying something incorrect, out of turn or stupid, you’re not trying hard enough. 

Journalists will refuse to open your emails, your writing will be criticized and a boss or two might rip into you every now and again. Don’t let this get you down. It’s all part of the fun. Embrace these happenings. One day, when you’re the one doing the yelling, you just might miss them. Okay, so probably not, but it was worth a shot.

3) Stay Active On Twitter Throughout the Working Day

This might seem like an unusual one, but it’s crazy how many positive, professional interactions take place on Twitter. It’s not that you need to be going crazy with this, but show your real self. There are already far too many “thought leaders” out there with strict editorial calendars and an agenda to push on Twitter. Don’t be one of them; furthermore, don’t act like one of them. They’ll do their thing and you’ll do yours.

Ultimately, what you’re looking to get out of this whole Twitter thing is a series of strategic connections. Journalists and other influential PR people already have far too many “cookie cutters” coming after them. Instead, just be yourself. The results will surprise you.

4) Beware of Too Much Social Media

While Twitter is great, moderation is good in all things—social media included. PR is one of the few careers which, in large part, is composed of things that people do for fun after their day jobs have been wrapped up: social media, news reading, blogging, etc. Because of this, it’s extremely easy to get distracted. Even worse, PR is infamous for the amount of task juggling that takes place on a daily basis. 

So as to avoid becoming slave to an endless to-do list, simply focus on one thing at a time. Once a given task is done, move onto the next. When it’s time for social media, do social media. When it’s time to respond to email, respond to email. Be disciplined. Truthfully, your efficiency alone will take you places.

5) Build a Personal Brand Through Individual Projects

There’s always going to be some PR know-it-all who thinks that building a personal brand is a grand waste of time. Usually, this person is super vocal about how stupid all of this is. Why? Well, ironically, it’s a part of his or her personal brand. 

Give everything you’ve got to your place of employment, but make sure that you’ve got a project or two that you can call your own. It might be a website, blog, podcast or e-book, but you need to have something to keep you on your toes.

6) Develop and Maintain a Passion Outside of Work

PR is an all-consuming career. Emails never cease. Coverage is always in high demand. Cell phones are never at ease. Heck, push notifications are even rumored to have been first created within the fiery depths of hell to keep PR people in line. 

Make sure you set time aside to develop or nurture relationships with people around you. If you’ve got a special hobby or talent that makes you happy, work to improve it. There’s a time for work and there’s a time to relax. The best of the best certainly spend a great deal of time working, but they also know when it’s time to give things a rest.

If you’ve made it far enough to realize how difficult this whole PR thing is, you’re doing better than most who try to make a worthwhile job out of PR. Hang tough. With the help of a few of the aforementioned tips, you’ll soon be glad you did.

Now it’s your turn—how does this list of tips rank when compared with others that you’ve read in the past? What worked for you when you first got started as a PR pro? Help all of Echelon’s younger readers by sharing your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.