The emphasis on timeliness, technological adeptness, and cultural insight is as high in the PR world as perhaps any other industry. That type of excitement and contemporary relevancy is probably what attracted you to PR in the first place. It is also probably the leading contributor to the increased stress and anxiety you might be feeling as you begin to wade into a fast moving and constantly evolving career.
Many young PR professionals will ask what needs to be done to ensure they are as prepared as possible. Many also begin to wonder how to really enjoy this career amidst the deadlines, pressures and oft-times chaotic workweek. Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track.
Most seasoned professionals will acknowledge some sort of learning curve for new PR professionals and might be willing to permit a few mistakes early on. One area in which your superiors will tend to be less forgiving, however, is social networking. As a member of a generation that was “raised” on these networks you will find that there is a high expectation as to your competency with these crucial PR tools. Not only should you be well-versed in using the full range of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, multiple blog platforms, and on and on) but you also need to be careful how you manage your personal accounts on these networks. You are now neck-deep in an industry that knows how to use social networking so be careful what you’re posting, commenting and linking to on any of your own accounts. PR employers will often do a thorough check of all your social networks before considering hiring you so consider those networks an extension of your résumé.
It’s been said so often that the phrase has become a cliché…but the fact remains that who you know really can be more important than what you know. As a youngster trying to move up in the PR world you will want to take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people within the industry. And when you do have the opportunity, take advantage. Here are a couple specifics to keep in mind:
- Eye Contact – Non-verbal communication cues do a lot more than we tend to give them credit for. Smile, remain engaged when others are speaking, look directly at others when you are speaking and, please, keep your eyes off your cell phone as much as possible.
- Speak Up – If you are new to the scene then don’t try to dominate a conversation. You have a lot to learn and listening is the best way to do it. But when you do have something to contribute to a conversation (more on this later) speak up and talk with confidence.
- Remember Names – The ability to remember names and recognize faces is a skill that can be developed. Promise yourself right now to never again use the excuse, “I’m terrible with names.” People respond to the sound of their name (Dale Carnegie claimed, “that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”) so make a habit of remembering names after being introduced and feel comfortable using their name later in the conversation.
Be Prepared, Do Your Homework
Although who you know might matter more than what you know, that doesn’t mean that what you know doesn’t matter at all. Take time before interviews, meetings, or events to brush up on any information that could be relevant to those situations. If you’re being interviewed by a new company it will be helpful to know as much about that company, their clients, their accomplishments, etc. as possible. If you’re doing an interview, then gather as much information as is available before the interview. This will enable you to conduct a more thorough and interesting interview and will keep the interviewee from feeling like their time is being wasted. The same goes for preparing for networking situations and group meetings—we talked above about contributing to conversations with confidence and that will be much easier to do if you have pertinent information to share.
Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in the business-consulting world. Right now, Robert specializes in business help, and how to grow your network. He enjoys biking, hiking, and all things outdoors, but mostly his beautiful wife and three kids.