You’ve officially accepted your first big-girl job at a public relations firm – congrats! Hopefully you’re prepared to handle some curveballs, because working in Public Relations is truly a rollercoaster, particularly when you’re first starting out. Whether you have a few internships under your belt or you have a grand total of zero experience, chances are your first few months on the job are going to leave you a little frazzled. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll export more media lists on Cision than you ever thought possible, but most of all you’ll learn A LOT. Fear not Public Relations newbies, I’ve put together a little survival guide to help you conquer those first few months on the job and get your career in public relations off to a roaring start.
Step 1: Do Your Homework
First day on the job, you’ll likely be given a list of accounts you can expect to be working on. While you may not be given a real assignment on your first day, doing your due diligence and reading up on all of your accounts is without a doubt the most important thing you can do to succeed. Read anything and everything you can find online about the company: their mission statement, where they have locations, who is on their executive team. Set up Google alerts so you can read news as it comes in. You may not know much about Public Relations just yet, but understanding the ins and outs of your new clients will help you hit the ground running and dramatically shorten your learning curve.
Step 2: Speak Up
If you have a question, ask it. If you have an idea, share it. You weren’t brought in just to do busy work, but to bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to the table. Don’t be intimidated by more experienced colleagues: they were all in your shoes at one point.
Step 3: Develop Your Social Media
Twitter can be an extremely valuable resource for pitching the media, and a reporter is far more likely to respond to your tweet if they see you have a strong following and are active online. Building up your social presence takes time, and starting early will help establish yourself as an influencer who should be taken seriously.
Step 4: Get Organized
The best Public Relations peeps are those who know that organization is crucial. Working in an agency, you will likely be juggling at least five accounts at a time, and will be expected to go back and forth and spend time on them all each and everyday. A lack of organization means inevitably deadlines will be missed and assignments will fall through the cracks. Everyone has a different technique to keep their stuff in line (I love folders and live by my to do list), so be sure to find what works for you early on and stick with it.
Step 5: Fake It Till You Make It
Cliché, but probably the best advice for someone who is just starting out. It’s normal to feel insecure, confused and unprepared, because Public Relations is the type of job that you have to learn as you go. The best way to become a Public Relations pro is to approach your new role headfirst. Dive in, pretend you know what you’re doing and before you know it you actually will.