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Five ways to transform your PR career

This is the fourth in a series of weekly features we’re publishing in the run-up to PRmoment’s new event: PR Masterclass: The Agency Growth Forum.

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. Attitude is everything.

In our industry, there has never been a better time so full of opportunities as this. So many exciting things are happening. Technology is transforming our business. It’s internationalising it, taking it into other disciplines and the need for content is exploding as cycle times get shorter. There are more channels with more augmented reality effects to try. Creativity has been democratised and so much professional content can be created in so many new ways.

And yet it’s not the technology which makes the difference. Nor is it the skills. So many people go on about a skills gap. What this industry so frequently lacks though is an attitude gap. Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. It’s the attitude to pick it up and apply it. Attitude is everything. Not just in this industry but in every profession.

Here’s five ways you can transform your career with the addition of minimal skills.

  1. Read the news. Everywhere. All the time. This is not because text is particularly useful. It isn’t. In fact, it’s dying out. It’s because it gives you situational fluency. This is a fancy term for knowing what’s going on. This allows you to read the winds, waves and tides. It will help you consult on the right time to do things. If you can hook up an idea to another story, or news-jack, it gets so much more fun.
  2. Read every book you can. And read widely, especially history. Do not attempt to read the books like you did at school or college. Learn to speed read. SQ3R technique is simple to learn and you can find free discussions about it everywhere. Creativity is just the history you don’t know. All the ideas have been done before. All creativity is theft. And in Britain, there’s so much to steal. So much of it is lying around free in museums, galleries and online. Go your own way. Go to movies and galleries on your own. Rediscover the past.
  3. Never get involved in a story. If you do, then it shows that you believe what you’re being told. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t believe anything. You should however, ask: “Why am I being told this? Am I being used?” Our job is not to believe or disbelief. News brings change. The comms professional is there to advise on change. This is especially the case in breaking stories. Remember that Speed and Truth is generally an inverse linear relationship. The faster the story, the less true it usually is.
  4. A) Never, ever follow the crowd. It’s really difficult not to be influenced by what other people are doing. But develop an instinct of zigging when everyone else is zagging. B) Never ever sell. Never sell anything to anyone at any time. In fact, do the opposite. Tell the client that this may not be the best idea or even that you may not be the right agency. Your job is to solve the client’s problem, not sell them a solution.
  5. Make your systems work outside hours. This is not advice to work longer hours. But we live in the real world. Stories can happen anywhere at any time. You can spot these by setting up simple news alerts based in XML code. RSS has been around for years. It amazes me that it’s still not routinely used. You can set these up by name, by subject or by channel.

If you have time, volunteer. For everything. Find time to work on a local cause. Volunteer for extra work and projects. Ask your employer if they need a project manager for anything. The volunteering thing matters because your community is important. Someone as smart and ambitious as you will be a huge boost to them. It also provides you with perspective to see your job outside in, not inside out. All departures are arrivals.

Everything is changing. If you see that as good or bad, then you’re probably right. Change is generally good for challengers. Those who are hungry, happy, hard-working and honest. These all go with the verb to be. They’re things you are. You can’t do any of them. It’s all about attitude.

Article written by Chris Lewis, CEO & Founder, Team Lewis

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