- 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.
- 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.
- Not speaking up.Part of having a successful career is to know 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 or project 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 can help you do that. The worst that someone can say is no-but they’ll then keep you in mind for future opportunities.
- 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.
- 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. Public relations pros must convey its business value, and if you don’t get “the numbers,” you can’t argue its merits.
- 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 trendsmonitoring. 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.
- 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 approvals and 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 valuable, so identify those strengths early on and perfect them throughout your career.