A Year Full of Lessons for an Entry-Level PR Pro
Once you graduate, there is this window of time where you feel clueless about your next steps, but once you find your footing, everything starts to make sense. Around this time, a year ago, I was applying for jobs and came across Veracity on LinkedIn. Thus beginning a new chapter of professional growth. Fast forward a year and a promotion later, I’m still here and have learned plenty of lessons that can shine some light for those entering the workforce.
Find Great Leaders
As a relatively new person to the professional business world, I had a bit of imposter syndrome while getting acclimated to my new role. No longer was I trying to explain what I could do. I was tasked with actually doing it, which scared me, yet with patience from my boss, Amy, and an open communication system, I soon overcame this fear to begin embracing my passion for PR. That brings me to my first lesson, when you have the luxury of choosing, try and seek out leaders that know your worth and are willing to help you grow.
With toxic work environment trends surfacing, I thanked the stars for my situation. I don’t say this to brag but to bring awareness that outstanding leadership will treat you and your boundaries respectfully while encouraging diversity of thought and professional development. Yes, I got lucky, but it shouldn’t be the exception. A positive work environment should be the rule.
Follow Your Instincts
Even after Amy reassured me that I was on the right path, my initial feeling of imposter syndrome was not entirely gone, which actually might be just fine. This brings me to my next lesson, don’t try to fake it if you don’t know it. Instead, ask questions. You are new, you may know bits and pieces, but in the end, it is better to ask than to guess. In addition to this lesson, Amy has hammered into my brain to follow my instincts and take control of a situation, especially in PR work. If I think I know what I’m doing, chances are I do. Getting over my work insecurities has taken time, primarily when communicating with the client.
Confident communication with clients makes them trust your work. Being the newest person on our team made me timid to approach clients with thoughts and ideas. I was scared to sound clueless, but my boss helped me realize that my views were fantastic. I just needed to learn how to execute them properly, leading to many lessons about confidence in delivery that will continue to develop with time, experience and practice.
Take Time With Your Responses
While working entirely online, email tends to flood quickly, which washes into my next lesson and probably the funniest one. YOU WILL NOT RESPOND RIGHT AWAY TO EVERY EMAIL! I remember telling my boss at the beginning that I like to respond to emails ASAP so I don’t have to worry about them. Well, Cailyn, maybe that worked when you were getting simple emails that didn’t require a lot of brainwork, but now you might need to take a reasonable amount of time to respond to an email.
Amy says that sometimes a meaningful response is much better than a quick one, which doesn’t just apply to email. You can sit back and think about your reply if it isn’t urgent. The idea that you don’t need to have answers right away all the time was challenging to grasp since I was trying to prove myself, but now that I understand why, I feel less overwhelmed.
Practice the Art of Writing
I’ve learned a lot, however, I am still learning, especially in my writing. The first time our editor tore apart my blog, it hurt. That was probably my biggest lesson. I realized that I wasn’t as good at writing as I initially thought, which was fine because Amy was willing to work with me on my writing skills. Below are just a few tips I got from both my boss and editor:
- Don’t ask rhetorical questions in pitches
- Read the way you want to write
- Remember to blatantly say what you want from the reader
- Each word is a dollar so save money
- Don’t begin each paragraph with the same word
- Putting “new” in the subject line is newsworthy
- When writing, just feel it, don’t stop yourself
I could pull a million tips, but these are what I think about often. Additionally, to their helpful tips I refer to one of my biggest PR helpers constantly — A Modern Guide to Public Relations. My first training task was to read it, and I think anyone getting their start in PR could benefit from the knowledge Amy shares in her book, along with listening to the PR Talk podcast.
A Final Lesson
Observing the flow of PR work resulted in many ah-ha moments. Although I had some experience before my position, I was only seeing part of the picture without understanding the how and why. After helping create and execute campaigns, write blogs, brainstorm social content and develop media relationships, I am now able to see the big picture, which makes my job much more fulfilling.
My last lesson for anyone in PR or applying for entry-level positions is to take the leap and not be scared. I hope my lessons can help someone going into an entry-level job since it can be nerve-racking, and we can feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, but that’s the point. You shouldn’t know everything. You should ask questions, be quiet, and listen because we’re all learning.