Public relations is a dynamic field requiring a mix of good writing chops, leadership abilities, a bit of charisma, and of course, time management skills. But getting one’s foot into the door is often a daunting challenge that aspiring young communicators face. Getting sound advice from people who have walked the same path can go a long way in helping one gain the confidence one needs to build a solid PR career.
Here, we feature tips, insights and wisdom from our PRecious veterans, who share advice they would give their younger selves, with a view to inspiring aspiring professionals who wish to build a career in the communications field.
Understanding factors affecting campaign execution
I’ve been fortunate to start as a journalist and in-house communicator before moving into a consulting role. This really helped to understand different perspectives. It is not always just about what is the most logical choice in terms of pure public relations objectives, but often also other dimensions for clients can come into play. From making e.g. your CEO look good or focusing on certain deliverables to hit your bonus-defining KPIs, or internal red tape, politics, budget struggles… There are so many things that can influence which campaigns or activities are pushed forward or put on hold that might not be obvious if your role as a PR professional is only that of a vendor instead of a trusted partner.
Contributed by Lars Voedisch, Founder and Managing Director
Build grit, but have fun too
I’ve had the privilege of growing in an agency environment from my first internship all the way through to now, it’s the only work environment I’ve truly known. Let’s face it, the constant pace and hustle of an agency is not for everyone, particularly as we come out of a year when we are still recovering from one of the greatest crises in human history, and when consultants have to deliver well beyond a scope to delight and retain clients.
Amid this, some advice I’ve received from past mentors which I espouse to our team members – first, it takes a lot of grit to survive – if not thrive – in an agency environment. We’re constantly questioned around ROI from brands, or face the prospects of rejection from our media allies during call downs. Work itself has a habit of creeping beyond the realm of 9 to 6, particularly around events and issues. Having our heads down and focusing on what we can control is crucial to stay encouraged – agency folk with thicker skins tend to fare better. A second tip I’ve learned from an old mentor is to have fun on the job – I mean, what’s the point if you’re not challenged and delighted by the culture and environment you’re in? Or revel in the chemistry shared with the people you collaborate with?
Contributed by Prayaank Gupta, Vice President, Growth & Innovation
The people vs. you. Get them on your side.
I don’t come from a communications background and didn’t start off in the PR industry till much later. So, I am probably not qualified to answer this question adequately.
I started my career in a call centre and spent six years there, at a time when the BPO industry was still in its infancy in India. I spent less than a year taking calls in the customer services department for the UK’s number one broadcaster and quickly moved to leading a team of agents. Over six years, I was part of several functions such as operations, service quality etc. There, I picked up something important – people management.
Six years later, a move to the PR industry was not by design – heck, I didn’t even know the difference between advertising and PR then. But I have spent over 13 years in the industry now. At the end of the day, regardless of the brands you work with, the campaigns you drive, and the outcomes you secure, people will remember you for how you are with people. From clients to your colleagues; from journalists to prospects, work on your people management skills and you have a better chance at winning.
Contributed by Rajiv Menon, Practice Head, Edge
Looking at the big picture
One aspect of the industry that is often overlooked is the potential for doing really interesting stuff that not many other professions can have access to. Many PR professionals – myself included – feel bogged down by deadlines, deliverables and trying to figure out the best angle or pitch to get that story out.
But if we actually take a step back and look at what we are really doing, we will realise that there is much more to the job than writing a press release or picking up the phone. Many of our colleagues at PRecious have done things that actually make an impact on the world, be it helping local entrepreneurs change the way we work with a new digital platform, launching a new entertainment channel, or even pushing a message around sustainability in our region – these are all work that impacts people.
So, young PR Professional (or young Clarence), take a deep breath, a step back and see how you actually help contribute to moving the world forward.
Contributed by Clarence Lim, Practice Head, INC
Learn to be a tough cookie!
Keep a positive attitude and develop resilience: Be adaptable, don’t take things to heart, learn to overcome obstacles and quickly bounce back.
One of the things I wish someone told me about being a good PR practitioner is that PR involves a lot of writing. And it is essential to understand the different communications mediums we use in PR: press releases, media pitches, speeches, feature articles, etc. I encourage people to read a lot to be able to develop good writing skills.
Read everything from newspapers to blog posts and even social media captions. The more you read, the more that writing becomes second nature.
Experiment with different writing styles; it’s okay to not always be 100% perfect. Just rise quickly whenever you stumble—this is where having a positive attitude comes in. Value constructive criticism: By learning from mistakes, you grow and become better at PR.
Contributed by Kiranjeet Sidhu, Client Services Director, Malaysia
Put yourself in your client’s shoes
Assume that the accounts you are holding are your baby. Then you will be doing things from the heart, as you are inspired to do your best.
As one of the most dynamic fields, PR naturally involves a lot of tasks. To start any campaign on the right foot, you need to be able to understand the client’s business well. Knowing your clients allows you to better position them to the media as you are able to better highlight the key messages. PR can be stressful, but it is rewarding. PR professionals are required to wear many hats: You’re expected to take on the role of a consultant, who advises clients on the right strategies to pursue. At the same time, you are expected to be able to write good articles that convey the clients’ messages effectively to the media.
Contributed by Busakorn Srisongkhroh, Thailand Market Lead
You are a significant part of a bigger story!
Make it a point to understand the why behind the tasks you have to accomplish – above anything else. Secondly, never underestimate your own work—it is never meaningless. But at the same time, also learn that it’s not just about yourself.
I started my career in PR as a media monitoring staff. I never really understood the why’s – how doing certain extra tasks will help the client, and how these can also help the team – until I progressed further in my PR journey. One task for instance – reading the newspaper very early in the morning while everybody is still in bed – can help the team provide more strategic consultancy to the client. This can actually go a long way in helping decision makers in the client side establish a great plan and execute it better, resulting in something that will significantly impact the market on a larger scale.
As I continued on my PR journey, I came to understand that I am a part of a bigger story. At the core, PR is a people business; it is all about us as a social being: connection, communications. Everything you do will automatically bring impact.
Contributed by Joyce Rodwina, Indonesia Market Lead