A successful PR professional needs to be well-rounded — strong communicators, excellent story tellers, and critical thinkers is just the start of a very long list of attributes. While a degree in communications can help build knowledge in communications theory and application, soft skills like relationship building, creativity, proactivity and emotional intelligence are key to advancing in your career. Consider these tips to build your career in PR and get ahead:
Never stop learning
A PR professional is constantly interacting with new people — whether its clients or media outlets. Staying up to date on current events and a diverse range of topics keeps you and your ideas interesting and relevant. Spend some time every week reading about new topics outside your usual area of interest.
“It is imperative to spend time reading about events that could impact your employer or client. Whether it’s jumping on breaking news and trends or identifying new reporter who are writing about relevant topics, you must be aware of the news cycle and what’s topical”, says Cathy Summers, CEO of Summers PR.
Stay up-to-date with Google Alerts and opening your browser to a list of news sites. Take advantage to Twitter to keep up to date with breaking news.
Get a mentor
Find someone to guide you through your career. This person should understand PR and how the industry works. A good mentor provides both personal and professional guidance, as well as offers networking opportunities by making introductions to people within the industry and in the media sector.
“Keep your eyes open for inspiring PR professionals. When you have the opportunity, let them know you admire them and ask if they would be open to talking with your from time to time. You’ll be surprise how often they will say yes”, says Beth Carvin, CEO of Mentor Scout.
In an industry like Public Relations, curiosity is essential to getting ahead. Make a point to learn about your industry from various sources. If you find something or someone who is new, interesting or relevant to your work, do your research. For instance, if you notice a reporter doing pieces relevant to your client’s industry, look up his or her coverage patterns. If you find an acronym or technical term you don’t know, look it up.
Having more knowledge can never be a bad thing, especially in Public Relations. The more you know, the better your pitches and client communication will be. And if you’re new to the game, it’s a great way to impress management with your extensive knowledge.
Get out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself from time to time. If you’re offered to work on a project outside that seems difficult, take the opportunity to expand your skill set. Working with a variety of people and projects can also do wonders to understanding your strengths and weaknesse