Written By Andrea Philips.
You’ve just finished your university degree, enjoying that feeling of accomplishment after years of study and you think you’re at the top of your PR game, especially when you see first year students nervously wandering around campus! The reality however is that the hard work is just beginning as the world of a full-time job brings a completely new set of opportunities and challenges.
It’s no secret that the first year of your first job can be a little intimidating. Entering into the PR world is entering into a universe full of professionals who appear to know everything about anything and in my case, have loads of experience and numerous award-winning campaigns up their sleeve! I’ve just completed year one and come out the other end absolutely loving my job! So I wanted to share five key tips to help graduates on the same journey get the most from their first year in PR!
Confidence is key: One thing I’ve learnt and experienced first-hand was that once you become confident in yourself and what you’re capable of, it’s a domino effect on everything else you’re doing. Just because you don’t have as much experience as the people you work with it doesn’t mean you don’t have something unique to offer. And as our MD says “if you don’t back yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?”.
Schedule it, or it won’t get done: During your first year in PR you quickly get to learn that time management is key – you need to be a great organiser. It’s great to be ambitious and try to get every task that has been allocated to you completed, but the fact is some days there’s just too much on your plate.
A great trick is to not only schedule time in your diary for meetings but also block out time to work on lengthy tasks, even if it is just a coverage report! Everything takes time and your clients/managers will request things from you at the last minute so allocating 7.5 hours of work each day is not realistic. It’s better to flag up front that you won’t get something done so you can give your manager time to reallocate the task. They won’t bite. A good way to approach this is to go through your workload with them and ask them to help you prioritise it. They can also help speak to others about expectations of timing for when things will get done.
Embracing the culture: Working in a PR agency definitely has its entertaining moments, so embrace it! It’s important to get involved in all the conversations happening around you, telling a joke or even just laughing at someone’s to make them feel better (I’ve had to do this a few times).
To understand the industry and the agency you are in, you need to throw yourself into any event or activity, put your hand up for things and most importantly have fun while you’re doing it!
Opinions have no hierarchy: At Red Agency we are schooled that it doesn’t matter that you might be the most junior person in the room, everyone’s ideas count, so put them forward. They might be the winner! Sometimes knowing less is more and can be the perfect tool to help you bring different and valuable perspectives and ideas to the table. So voice your ideas in thinking brainstorms and most importantly, be yourself, you learn so much about people and their personalities in these sessions.
It’s never too early to network: No matter where you are or who you’re talking to, sell yourself and your agency! When you have the opportunity to attend industry events, take a stack full of business cards and don’t be afraid to have a chat. You never know how far a casual conversation with a stranger can get you, whether it’s a great piece of coverage or even a new business lead. It’s a great way to start to extend your sphere of contacts.