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5 Things I’ve Learned about the PR World While in my 20s

If you happen to be one of my coworkers, you know I’m turning 30 next month. Because I mention it every few hours.

If you’re not one of my coworkers, let me be the first to tell you that I’m turning 30 next month.

Now that I’m a few weeks away from being what I consider “old and wise,” I’d like to use my company’s blog to impart some wisdom on the young people who have recently entered the PR world or soon will.

  1. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

I know. I’m one to talk considering I work remotely from my home office and wear running clothes all day, but every few weeks I do venture out into the real world to attend client meetings and conferences and, when I do, I’m decked out in my finest business casual. I’m not wearing my Friday-night-at-the-bar outfit with killer heels and, oh hey, let’s throw a blazer on top to make it look more professional. Look at Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton. They’re both absolutely gorgeous women who could probably show up at a conference in a bikini and still exude professionalism — but they don’t. They are fantastically classy and if we all follow their lead there’s a chance we could end up as FLOTUS or a princess.

  1. Doing agency grunt work is like rushing a Greek organization.

Everyone’s done it and it sucks, but just know it’s the foundation for bigger and better things. We’ve all built media lists, researched ridiculous things, clipped media hits and compiled reports. It’s kind of a thankless job, but it’s an integral part of what agencies do and there will be a day when it won’t be a part of your daily responsibilities. On the days when you hate it, just think — you could be handling PR for Chipotle right now. Feel better?

  1. Find a hobby that helps you disconnect.

I started running about 4.5 years ago because my husband told me I needed a hobby. (I think he meant that in a good way?) That quickly evolved into running a half marathon, then a marathon. Seven half marathons and five marathons later, I realize I may have picked a bit of an extreme hobby, but I’m better for it. Because, literally, there’s no strategic plan I have to write or client I need to work with that is more difficult than running 26.2 miles in the rain when you’re tired and just want a cheeseburger and oh my god why is there another hill. Finding something that helps you disconnect, even for a few hours, is like a refresh button that ultimately will make you better at your job.

  1. Learn to drink in professional situations.

By 22, you’ve likely mastered the art of drinking in social situations. But now it’s time to move on to the big leagues and learn what’s acceptable alcohol consumption in the presence of your boss, clients and other industry professionals. This can be explained easily in a few sentences: shots are not OK, red wine will turn your teeth red and make you look like you’ve had way too much to drink, and any mixed drink with two or more types of alcohol should be approached with caution. There are exceptions to these rules, of course, but you’re better off erring on the safe side than being “that girl/guy” who was wasted at a happy hour.

  1. Find your voice?

(Yes, the question mark was intentional.) At some point, you’re going to have to present an idea to someone more senior than you or to a client and you’ll need to sound like you know what you’re talking about. The quickest way to not sound credible is to speak like you’re ending every sentence with a question mark. It makes people question whether you’re asking them something or telling them something. Unfortunately, everyone born after 1985 seems to have this problem (I blame 90s sitcoms), so correcting it is just part of growing up. Practice at home and with your peers and soon you’ll have so much confidence coming out of your mouth you’ll probably be promoted to CEO.*

(*Results may vary.)