The transition from college student to career professional can be both intimidating and exciting. It’s a time when most professionals learn, stumble, and grow the most.
When I started as a public relations specialist at my current employer, I wanted to be the best—fast. However, personal growth takes time.
Here are five tips for jumpstarting your PR career:
1. Become a writing maestro.
Don’t underestimate the need for engaging, well-written content.
As a recent graduate, you are shaking off years of formal research papers and short blog posts. Those are great, valuable forms of writing—but now you’re going to take on countless case studies, press releases, ghost-written articles, Q&As and various other forms of content.
While no two types are the same, all high-quality PR content contains similarities. First, tell a story—and lose the jargon.
Second, practice patience. Someone once said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, how will you have time to do it over?” Take time to carefully proof your work and have someone else review it before submitting your final draft.
Finally, adjust your content to match the brand’s voice. This might be the most challenging goal, but it’s priceless once achieved. Become a sponge and absorb the brand voice veteran writers have developed for the company. Soon enough, your writing will blend in and gain readers’ trust.
2. Mingle with other departments.
In the past, a PR pro may have kept to themselves and focused on securing the next big storyline in the local newspaper. Not anymore.
Today’s PR pros are expected to produce videos, maintain social media channels, write blog posts and sustain a website in addition to traditional PR duties. That’s where the rest of your team comes in.
Every department has a different structure, but working with the content writers, graphic designers, and digital media team will enhance your PR efforts. Work with your team on producing blogs for pitching or a video you’d like included in the next press release. The cross-platform possibilities are endless.
The lesson: Don’t let titles limit you. Reach out to others throughout your organization to find out who has skills that complement yours. The owned and paid media your team creates is a major resource to drastically improve earned media efforts.
3. Learn how to pitch.
Owned media and customer advocates are great, but if you are waiting for your audience or prospects to stumble upon them, you’re wasting a golden opportunity.
If you want to test the waters, start on the local level and work your way up to industry publications or national media outlets. Don’t just sit there—pitch.
The lesson: Look at your leadership team, customers and company initiatives. Each area has a story worth telling to inspire others. Try to turn those stories into free coverage.
4. Embrace technology.
Become an expert with the media tools available to you. My employer introduced me to a media management solution, which has become my go-to tool. I can track where my company and our competitors are being mentioned, identify who the influencers and journalists are in our industry, and pull together analytics reports all in one platform.
Media tools are a lifesaver for anyone in PR.
The lesson: Work smarter, not harder. Not every company will have a budget for media communication tools, but you can always advocate for them. If you fight the good fight and still can’t find room to add media solutions in your budget, explore the free tools available to you. If you’re a student and worried about your lack of communication technology experience, check out this great resource.
5. Be a contrarian.
Just because you are new to the industry doesn’t mean you are powerless. In my two short years on the job I’ve changed the way we use press releases, added new types of content to our owned media library, helped revamp our online newsroom, built close relationships with editors and so much more.
The lesson: Challenge existing norms and introduce new approaches. The PR industry is changing rapidly and so are its practices. If you see something that can be done better, speak up. You might be surprised at how willing leaders are to listen and implement your recommendations.
What would you add to this list, PR Daily readers?
This article originally appeared on PR Daily in October of 2018.