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Six ways to shine in your first PR job

If you had told me at the beginning of my university career in 2015, as I sat in a large, crowded seminar room surrounded by strangers and a textbook pile taller than me, that I would be a PR account manager in three years’ time, I probably would have asked the question, “what’s PR?” 

Nevertheless, after taking the PR and communications module in first year, run by lecturer Richard Bailey, I was inspired and continued to strive towards the goal of working in PR, communications and social media management when I graduated and now, here I am!

Here’s the six top things I’ve learned over the past six months as an entry level graduate in PR. 

1. Change your mind, sometimes it’s for the best

Life is not set in stone, I went to uni thinking I was going to do a PGCE and become a secondary school English teacher, then I was going to become a magazine journalist in the food industry and now I work in PR. 

I’ve got to say, I’m really glad university changed my mind about my career path, not only because I’m in a role that I enjoy, but also because it made me think about me, my attributes and my strengths; it helped shape me professionally and personally so, don’t worry if you change your mind – it’s probably for the best. 

2. Mistakes are positive

I don’t pretend to be perfect, I would never tell someone that I’ve been flawless in my current role because it would simply be a lie. I’ve made a few mistakes. But that’s okay because all of those mistakes have made me better at my job because I’ve learnt from them. That day where I didn’t check my work over, made me a more accurate editor, the time where I took too long on one task task made me more time-efficient and when I took meeting notes down wrong, I became a better listener. 

3. It’s ok to get frustrated

Writer’s block? Don’t understand the task? Find it impossible to know what to do next? Communication issues? I think most people, entry level and above, run into issues like this in PR and it can be SO frustrating, like throw-things-off-your-desk-have-a-little-cry frustrating. 

Best advice I was ever given when I got frustrated was to stand up, do something else for five minutes and come back, I personally enjoy a cup of coffee and a quick chat with my boss to air out any issues I might be facing; there’s no harm in asking for help when you’re stuck either – in fact, I strongly encourage it!

4. Baby steps are the quickest way to move 

Running before you can walk isn’t going to get you very far when you’re new to a job, whatever sector you’re in. It’s going to lead to more trips and falls than is necessary. Slow everything down and take things at a good pace and you’re not going to have to pick yourself up as often. 

This was the worst one for me as I started my new job; I’m a real doer and I just want to do all of the things all of the time and it wasn’t really working out for me to begin with, I kept getting tangled up. Taking a step back, I knew that to progress I had to do things slowly and whilst it was difficult, taking baby step instead of huge strides is how I progressed from intern to account manager. 

5. Showcase your work 

Be proud of your achievements, press releases can be hard to write and even harder to get published so, when you get something great out there make sure you’re shouting about it. Post it on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, show off your clients, but show yourself off too, you deserve it!

6. Stay connected and keep learning

Don’t forget that the PR world is a massive place and one that changes all the time. Whilst you might keep learning on the job, make sure you keep your knowledge of PR, communications and social media fresh and up to date. Watch blogs or online seminars, read as much as you can or go to networking events and lecture; keep your passion for PR alight because it’s always going to be an exciting place to work. 

Written by Steph Palmer, account manager at agency Carnsight Communications

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