Around six years ago, I started working as a PR professional. It has been a great journey and I really love the job that I do. Today, I understand the various nuances of the profession however that has only happened over time.
Now that I look back, I often think that what if a particular incident hadn’t happened then what would have been the course of action, or how would things have been if I hadn’t reacted in the particular way I did. Therefore, today in this weekly column, I am writing about the things I would like to tell my younger self – a few years ago when I started working in PR. These are also some of the things I tell my new team members whenever we start working together.
- Don’t call randomly
This is the foremost lesson I took many years ago. Specifically, today when almost every third journalist starts tweeting about a random PR pro calling them without knowing about what type of stories they do, I think it is even more relevant. Although I would say those young interns or professionals are not to be blamed. Not much time is spent training those individuals and they have the pressure to close the task allotted to them.
The key learning therefore is not to call randomly. A quick Google search will help you find the type of stories done by a journalist, or if he/she has moved to another publication. Do your homework properly before calling a journalist else you will sound like that credit card selling cold caller (with due respect to what they do) who doesn’t know what to offer to you.
- Ask questions
How much do I miss being in the initial years of my work because of this reason. Well, not that I don’t ask questions now, but I think in the initial years, you are given the benefit of doubt to ask all types of questions. Some of them might be irrelevant but it’s okay as long as you are learning by asking them.
- Do not assume
I love telling this one to my own naive self and to my new team members! You were given a task to pitch a story, but the journalist didn’t buy it; or a client asked you to do something and you couldn’t do it so that’s fine. Absolutely not! You cannot assume anything. Always check, double check and cross check on what you are expected to do. If plan A doesn’t work, look at the alternative options. Find solutions and like I have said before in the column a few days ago, figure it out!
“Own it!” is a common quote we see while scrolling through different quotes pages of Instagram. When you are given a task, make sure you do it end to end. Even if that means driving your seniors – just do it!
- Be a consultant, not a postman!
This is not only important when you are facing media but even more important when you start working with clients. You are a consultant and not a postman which means you need to have the know-how – the knowledge of how the landscape and the industry works and how (skills) to do it. Go and get those skills and gain knowledge – read more after all you have time and bandwidth to do it as much as you can in the initial years. Bruce lee once said which is very relevant in this case,
“Make use of it since this time will not come back. Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
- Explore everything
We are living in times when PR has diversified itself. From media relations, it has widened to social media, digital marketing, content marketing, public affairs, internal communications and so on. Explore everything – you will know what you like and then you can go on to specialise in a segment that you like.
- Take initiative
This one will take you places. While we will continue to do what we are expected to do, but it is taking those initiatives and going beyond your KRAs that will make a difference.
These are a few learnings that I have had in my career that I always tell my new team members. A few of these crucial points were told to me by my seniors but majority is something I have learnt during my short span of time spent in PR. Had someone told them to me at the very beginning of my job, the course might have been different but well, your experiences make you the individual you are – be it professionally or personally. I will conclude with this saying by Antonio Brown: