Getting ahead in PR…

You’re probably thinking I’ve neglected this blog.

…and you’d be right.

But don’t fear I’ve got some pretty nice content lined up for the coming months, including the obscenely belated social media monitoring post I owe Richard Bailey. (I’ve just been waiting for something to piggyback it on, being the PR idiot I am!)

Anyway so, I got promoted two weeks ago; this time last year I was an intern, now I’m an Account Manager. Mark Hanson once told me during a walk to Leeds train station that he thought I could become an Account Manager imminently. Mark was someone I looked up and to think he held me in the esteem that I could be a Manager after less than a year’s paid experience, meant I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat the rest of the way home.

I’m pretty chuffed to be a 23 year old Account Manager and I think Mark’d be proud, and probably doubly proud of some of the stories I’ve got after flat sitting for Will 😉

A mockery of the job title? Maybe, to the cynics out there.

The people I’ve worked with and for aren’t complaining though, so I’ve decided to pull together a few tips for getting ahead in public relations. I’ve learnt these along the way and still try to adhere to them; if they can help anyone then it’s all good, but if not, please share any thoughts/tips/abuse in the comments below…


Do be prepared to work hard

Having to work hard, and I do mean hard is an absolute given in PR. Be prepared for, and willing to work late and maybe even the odd weekend. Saying this though, it’s not just about working hard; any mug can slog away for hours endlessly, the emphasis has to be on working hard and smart. By smart I mean thinking about the bigger, more strategic picture, organising and managing your workload and knowing your own personal remit and having the balls to say ‘no’.

Do be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty

Doing more than you’re payed to do is a sure way of advancing your career, and rarely goes unnoticed by the board. I don’t mean trying to run the business or attempting to do someone else’s job, instead it’s the little things that count. Getting to the office early, staying late, helping others and helping out on accounts you don’t work on are sure-fire ways to stand out from the crowd and gain favour.

I pushed Tim‘s car all the way from Meanwood to Alwoodley in the snow, if that isn’t doing ‘that bit extra’, I don’t know what is!

Do take responsibility for your  personal development

I reckon nurturing, developing and rewarding the talent of agency staff should be absolutely standard public relations HR procedure, and different companies have different ways of upskilling and training employees. This said, it’s not their responsibility; it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for acquiring both necessary and desired professional skills.

The advantages of this are many fold; you can decide on a specific area that you would like to gain expertise and make conscious, informed decisions about where you want your career to go.

Do grasp all and every opportunity

Working in public relations means opportunity comes a’knocking every day; travel, the chance to attend and/or speak at events, multi-agency brainstorms, blogger meetups, networking conferences; the list goes on and on…

Also, at small consultancies, junior employees are often given that bit more responsibility and the chance to get involved in areas of the business that their professional peers wouldn’t get a sniff at. Although daunting, getting involved and putting yourself forward for anything and everything is well worth it in terms of experience, career progression, networking, getting to know industry players and profile building.


Don’t lose sight of the value of face-to-face 

So your Peer Index and Klout scores are though the roof and your blog’s pulling in more inlinks than you can shake a stick at, but what’s it all worth if no-one gives a toss who you are in the real world?

Of course, that’s a post for another time, but today when digital has made communication utterly effortless, people often overlook the value of a good old fashioned boozy PR lunch face-to-face meeting. I’ve learnt that meeting journalists, clients, potential new business leads in person just can’t be replicated online and along with being more productive in terms of relationship building, it’s just more fun!

Don’t boast about client coverage

I always shudder when I see a tweet along the lines of ‘Great piece in the Isle of Man Weekly for our client Big Dave’s Burger Van’. I guess this too is a debate for another day, but it always seems a bit crass.

I’ve had pieces in almost every national, and some other pretty heavyweight outlets; it’s no biggie and I’ve never tweeted or blogged about it ‘coz it’s what I’m payed  to do. Thanks for letting me know you’ve got coverage; really surprising that, considering you work in PR.

Instead, think about award entry and championing a whole campaign you executed for a client.

Don’t hold ideas back

This is something I’m still working on; I found it really hard to contribute in meetings and brainstorms as a relative foetus compared to the seasoned practitioners sat around the table.

It almost felt like I had to earn the right to be there, yet if you’ve landed the job the agency’s already shown enough faith in you and your capabilities. Although you might feel reluctant to share your concept for an experiential campaign involving midgets dressed as batman and a herd of goats, there’s no such thing as a bad idea and others will often build on and improve it.

Don’t be afraid to challenge senior decision or ideas

Having the confidence, to constructively disagree with a senior idea or decision will garner employer and colleague respect. I don’t mean acting a pedantic tw@, but if you genuinely feel you can improve upon or add something positive to a senior discussion, then don’t feel inferior or be afraid to hold back.


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