How to become an expert on your client’s industry

Unfamiliar with the industry related to your new or prospective clients? A PR professional who’s been there explains how to become an expert on a chosen field.

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To add to the confusion, Day Two of my first week working in New York was 9/11, and one of my clients was a major consultant to the insurance industry. Talk about being in over my head.

During those first couple of months, I remember thinking on multiple occasions that I must be crazy for taking the job. Thankfully, I was surrounded by great mentors both inside and outside of the company who reassured me to not freak out.

They told me my first job was to learn, and the best way to do that was to immerse myself in reading everything I could get my hands on about my clients and their industry. My first priority was to understand the trends and issues happening in my clients’ industries and to know enough to ask smart questions that would potentially shape a good news story.

It was great advice that I still find myself repeating to younger professionals starting out. Great business-to-business PR advisors aren’t know-it-alls; they are intellectually curious. Here are a few tips I’ve received over the years that I now pass along to my younger colleagues:

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