Hi, everybody. My name is Charlie Vinopal and I am a recovering “Young PR Professional.”
I am currently 25 years, seven months and 10 days into my life and, more importantly, three years into my full-time career in public relations. There’s no strict definition for when a “young PR professional” transitions into just a regular old public relations professional, but I do know that I am no longer being mistaken for someone’s child on “Take Your Son To Work Day,” so that’s a good enough sign for me. Bearing in mind the fact that I can no longer claim “Yo-Pro” status in the PR or corporate communications field, I figured it would make sense to impart some wisdom on those who are still getting their feet wet in the industry.
So, without further ado, please see below for a few tips and tricks from my time in the industry:
Be a “Jack of All Trades”
When establishing yourself in the industry, it’s important to do a little bit of everything for your firm or company. I may be exhibiting a slight bias here because I work for a (terrific) smaller firm and thus have the opportunity to try my hand at a wide range of tasks, but there is a great deal of merit in being a “yes man” regardless. As a young professional in the industry, it is easy to master one or two things and stick to those tasks. While there’s an obvious benefit to being an expert at certain tasks (especially at larger firms), being willing and able to help across the board makes you an invaluable part of your team.
Simply because of the general inertia of the industry itself, many PR firms are offering creative communications services that run the gamut — ranging from digital marketing to traditional media relations to advertisements to marketing services and beyond. Being able to write a press release for one client while helping stand up a digital advertising campaign for another makes you a dynamic, integral part of the machine.
Exhibiting this type of behavior as a young PR professional showcases that you have a unique drive and will to help the company get from Point A to Point B by any means necessary.
Figure out how different managers tick
At our firm, we all recently took something called the “Predictive Index,” a behavioral assessment that helps identify how we work as individuals and how we can use this information to better work together. The results of the Predictive Index showcased how differently all of my fellow employees operate in areas ranging from communication and the delineation of tasks to the execution of strategy and beyond. With these results, I began thinking about how this could be useful information for a PR professional just getting started in the industry.
Regardless of the size of your PR firm or company, the chance of having multiple managers or direct reports is highly likely — handling a wide range of tasks and working for several different clients will naturally lead to having multiple superiors. No matter how cohesive the environment is at your place of work, these superiors will surely have different personalities and, as a result, different management styles. With this in mind, it’s important to be incredibly cognizant of how each manager operates and to learn how best to collaborate with them. This means looking at how they get their work done, the speed at which they do it, how they interact with clients, whether they favor perfection over efficiency, etc. The list goes on and on.
After you get a good feel for how each colleague operates, it is important to tailor your work to best suit their management styles. When you’re on the same page as each of your managers, you’ll be able to deliver communications services to your clients in a more streamlined and effective manner, making all parties involved happy.
Find a way to stand out to your clients
For an entry-level PR professional, you may not have as much interaction with your clients as other members of your team. For instance, providing daily media clips (one of the most common duties for an early-PR pro) is an incredibly important task to complete for any client, but doesn’t necessarily help you stand out on a day-to-day basis. Seeking opportunities to make yourself known to the folks you are providing services to (in a way that meshes with how the account is being managed, of course) is important when you’re trying to succeed early in your PR career.
There’s no “silver bullet” when it comes to creating relationships with your client, but the key really is just getting face time with them. For example, I seek out opportunities to assist clients with events or speaking engagements. This could even be as simple as helping run a powerpoint or set up a table at an industry event. Trust me — they will remember the person that helped them get through speaking in front of a crowded room.
When you find a way to stand out to your client, you will no longer be just “the guy who sends the clips,” you will become a valued member of the team and, thus, trusted with more sophisticated, challenging and rewarding strategic communications tasks for that client.
So, that’s all I have for you today, young PR professionals. Feel free to heed the advice (or not) and I’ll be back in five years to provide additional tips from the perspective of a wizened 30-year-old public relations guru.
Note: This article originally appeared on Medium.