It’s PR, Not the ER: PR Advice from the Pros

By Lily Lowndes

Public relations can be a hectic industry. PR professionals know how to work hard, move fast and pivot at a moment’s notice. Especially when in crisis mode, an average day in public relations can turn into what feels like an emergency room situation.

Nothing at work should be as stressful as life-and-death.

It’s PR, not the ER. Our job may require us to be constantly on the go, but it is important to have boundaries.

That sage piece of advice came from Jack Miller, an account executive at G&S Business Communications, who spoke on the Young Professionals Panel at #PRogress Report, the Midwest District Conference hosted by DePaul PRSSA as part of PRSSA’s impressive district conference line up.

Miller’s “it’s PR, not the ER” was one of the most memorable comments from last week’s conference, but there were so many other lessons I learned from the diverse line-up of speakers. Hearing young PR professionals, agency veterans and the keynote speaker David Albritton, founder and CEO of Nineteen88 Strategies, talk about their experiences in the industry was insightful. As a student, I have found that listening to real people can help you learn lessons that you won’t find in any textbook.

The candid conversations at PRogress Report allowed me to get first-hand advice from PR professionals. In addition to “it’s PR, not the ER,” here are my main takeaways from the conference.

Seek out mentors and sponsors

No matter whether you are searching for an internship, starting your first job, or becoming a veteran in the field, it is important to continue to seek out mentors and sponsors. Mentors and sponsors help their mentees grow by giving them advice and helping them navigate challenging work situations.

Mentors are people who can provide you with new perspectives. Maybe they have more experience in the field, or maybe they know their way around the company you work at. Mentors are points of contact that you can turn to when you have questions.

Sponsors are people who champion your success in a more tangible way. In addition to giving advice, they focus on finding opportunities for you. Sponsors will lobby for you and open doors you didn’t know were there.

Seek out mentors and sponsors because no matter where you are in your career, it always helps to have an extra person in your corner.

Ask people about themselves

Networking is a buzzword that I hear often at career workshops and panels, but I haven’t heard many tips about how to go about it. How do you find a mentor or a sponsor? How do you make connections?

David Albritton, a former CCO before beginning his own consultancy, gave a solid strategy for breaking the ice and talking to people.

In his keynote speech, Albritton said that researching and asking people about themselves is key to networking. When you find someone interesting on LinkedIn or at a leadership conference, take a moment to look into their history. What have they posted about on LinkedIn? Do they have a website? What are some of their passions?

Once you have background information, strike up a conversation. Bring up the inspiring story they posted or an article they were featured in. People love to talk about themselves. Opening the floor for them to speak about their experience will help you make that networking connection.

Stay connected with your network

Communication is a two-way street, but when it comes to networking, you have to be the one to drive the conversation. It is up to you to reach out to your connections, mentors, and sponsors when you have questions. Once you make a connection, reach out to them and arrange a time to chat.

People in your network will want to help you, but you will not receive guidance unless you reach out to them.

Aside from asking questions, make sure to interact with your network. Comment on LinkedIn posts, congratulate them on milestones and check in with people to see how they are doing. Engaging in these practices will keep your connections alive.

The Midwest District Conference was a masterclass for young PR professionals like me. I walked away from PRogress Report inspired by the sound advice given by our panelists and keynote speaker. I learned from their first-hand experience in networking and building work relationships. I also gained a new work motto: it’s PR, not the ER.

Lily Lowndes is an endlessly curious student of life. She is a junior studying public relations & advertising and journalism at DePaul University, which means she loves to connect with people through writing. Lily has interned for the boutique PR agency JFPR media, served on the promotions team for the 2022 PRSSA Midwest District Conference, and is the social media editor for her college newspaper, the DePaulia. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

One thought on “It’s PR, Not the ER: PR Advice from the Pros

  1. As a senior PR student at the University of Alabama, these tips from PR professionals are helpful to consider as I graduate and start my career in the industry. It’s important for PR professionals at any level, whether entry-level or senior-level, that “PR is not the ER.” PR professionals working hard in a fast-paced environment should set boundaries for their work.

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