As a young professional, I read and listen to a lot of advice from
successful leaders on self-improvement and career enhancement.
Most tips cover what we should do more of; rarely do we hear what we should stop doing.
From the advice I've heard and things I've seen, I've put together a
list of 10 things young PR pros must stop doing in order to get ahead.
1. Not making mistakes.
Time and time again, you hear successful people talking about what
they've learned from their mistakes, yet we're all afraid of making
them. We should make
plenty of mistakes, as long as they're new mistakes, not the same ones
over and over. By making a bunch of different mistakes, we understand
what works and
what works better, and we learn a lot.
2. Playing it safe.
Most successful PR campaigns—and ideas in general—come from being bold
and innovative. If you work at an agency, it's what clients hire you
for. If you're
in-house, it's what your colleagues rely on you for. Being the most
junior person on the team doesn't mean you shouldn't speak up with
creative ideas or
offer a different way to tackle a challenge. It may give you and your
client or company an advantage.
3. Not speaking up.
Part of having a successful career is knowing when to listen and when to
speak up. More often than not, young PR professionals don't pipe up
when they have
a great opportunity. If you have a different idea or approach, want to
question an idea or have valuable insight, speak up. If there's an event
you're interested in, take the opportunity to say you're interested. If
there's a skill you have to improve, volunteer for a project that help
you do that.
The worst that someone can say is no-but they'll then keep you in mind
for future opportunities.
4. Treating media relations like transactions.
A pitch does not always result in coverage. Most of the time, it ends up
in the trash can. Media relations is not transactional; it's based on relationships. Many young PR pros don't take a chance
to build a relationship that can lead to a career-long partnership. It all starts with a cup of coffee.
5. Ignoring the numbers.
One reason I started working in communications was I thought I wasn't a
"numbers person." A lot of young PR pros feel the same way, but you
can't do PR
well if you don't understand business or finance. You don't have to be
an expert, but you must understand how communications improves the
bottom line. It
takes some time, but it's possible and worth it. (I can attest to both
those things.) Public relations pros must convey its business value, and
don't get "the numbers," you can't argue its merits.
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6. Monitoring for stories, not trends.
Almost every young PR pro starts with media monitoring and media clips.
It's a necessary evil. What I've learned is that media monitoring is
really media trends monitoring. Picking up the patterns and
interests of reporters, publications and blogs and identifying
opportunities are among the most
valuable skills you can cultivate. Start this practice early, and you'll
be a real pro before you know it.
7. Thinking everyone else works as fast as you do.
Not every professional, partner or client works as fast as the PR pro
does. Your sense of urgency is not universal. Build in extra time for
responses; it'll save you a lot of stress in the long run.
8. Being a generalist.
Because there are so many facets to PR, it's good to know how to do
everything (from pitching to social media to event planning), but part
of developing a
personal brand is choosing a few strengths and playing to them. Being
the go-to person for knowledge, information or input is extremely
identify those strengths early on and perfect them throughout your
9. Accepting the existing process.
There is always a better or more efficient way to do things, especially
with evolving technology. Too many times we accept a given process as
certain improvements could save time and/or money. Young professionals
bring knowledge and an outsider's perspective to a project, so make sure
always looking for ways to improve.
10. Ignoring the work/life balance.
It's not unusual to work constantly when you work in PR. With the many
projects and deadlines and the 24-hour news cycle, it's easy to get
caught up in
work. The more you enjoy life outside of work, the better you are at
doing your job. Remember: There will always be work to do, but we're
only young once.
works in corporate communications at a top New York PR firm.
A version of
originally appeared on
Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists by searching their bios, tweets and articles, and pitch them to get more press.