Most PR pros thrive on variety, new challenges, and the opportunity to learn and grow. Life at an agency (or corporate position) is rarely dull! And with that fast pace and constant change comes plenty of chances to move or shift positions.
Landing in a new role can be intimidating and exciting all at once. Here are some lessons I’ve picked up over the years:
- Ask questions. A lot of them! Don’t assume you understand something fully, and don’t write based on those assumptions.
- Pay attention to how the agency works in addition to how each client account works. This will help you develop a good eye for business and strategy along with PR.
- Try everything! This is your chance to get a wide variety of experiences. Never done media relations? Go for it. Afraid of crisis communications? Seek out opportunities to assist the team anyway. You’ll find out what you like and don’t like, and develop a broad skillset to apply later on.
- Nail the details. Remember those AP style and grammar rules from school? Those standard PR formats? Apply them and perfect them during your internships so they become second nature as you advance.
- Find your time management solution. Yay, you’re official! For many, that means managing a full-time workload for the first time in their lives. Pay attention to time management and find the best solution that works for YOU to juggle your new tasks. Learning it now will serve you well into the future.
- Seek out new projects. Let your team know you’re ready, willing and able to support new work or projects beyond your current scope. You’ll grow your skillset AND prove that you’re ready to take on more.
Account Management/Account Leader Level
- Learn your team. Congrats! Chances are you’re now responsible for at least a couple other team members. That also means it’s your responsibility to mentor their development. Take time to understand the strengths, weaknesses and interest areas of each team member so you can delegate tasks appropriately and foster a great team dynamic!
- Master communications subtleties. Now that you’re in the lead on a project or account, it’s even more important to make wise choices about HOW you communicate with clients and partners and WHEN. Each likely has his or her own unique communication preferences. It’s your job to learn them inside and out. It’s also a good time to grow in your ability to handle tricky situations, whether it be a crisis or a challenging budget conversation—watch how those more senior than you handle them and apply those lessons to your own approach.
- Listen. By this point in your career, you know the basics. Some of your best learning will now come from listening to others—co-workers, clients, partners, competitors. See what they do, take notes, and apply it to your own daily work.
Senior Leadership Level
- Become a strategy guru. Strategy gives you the ability to think one step ahead (or five!). It helps you connect each individual tactic to a larger business objective, anticipate curve balls, and guide your clients away from upcoming cliffs and toward opportunities. As a senior leader, you will differentiate yourself most on your ability to strategize. Learn from others, learn from books, learn by doing.
- Try your hand at business development. At this level, there’s a good chance you’ll have a hand in the company’s growth strategy and its ability to seek new work. Be creative and strategic about suggesting new areas to pursue, and engage in efforts to expand the business’s visibility.
- Grow your personal network. Beyond focusing on your company, focus on your role and skills in the industry or in the community. Make connections, seek board opportunities, or invest in a cause you love. This is a great time to focus on your personal brand as well as your career brand.