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How to get the PR career you want

If your PR career is not going the way you want it to you can only blame yourself. It is easy to blame your boss or your client for things that go wrong, but in the end only you can make it work. Taking time to reflect on your career is important. Appraisals are useful for looking at where your career is going, but sometimes it is healthy to take a regular, personal raincheck on your current career to ensure it is on the right path. If it isn’t then you can take steps to change things. How often have I heard others complain that their boss doesn’t value them, their client asks for the wrong things, or their colleagues are taking the glory? Here are my tips for taking control of your career:

Give yourself a health check
It is always useful to sit down occasionally and review your current position and whether you are happy. No one should do a job they hate, so if you aren’t happy don’t blame someone else – change things. Also, if you are feeling undervalued or sidelined, set yourself some goals in terms of increasing visibility, being more effective in meetings, or simply asking for senior time to discuss your career.

Be visible
No one sees a cyclist in the dark if they aren’t wearing high vis. Similarly, anyone who is not visible in the office will go unnoticed. So think about how to create your own ‘high-vis’ strategy. Whether it is ensuring others know of your achievements or making sure you are volunteering for tasks, make some effort to be part of the team.  By achieving standout and visibility, you are less likely to be overlooked.

Make a contribution
As an MD, I like to see and reward the value that people bring to our business. If someone is good – at winning business, doing evaluation, finishing tasks, making my life easy – then they are more likely to be recognised for their contribution. Not everyone is a big, loud business winner and in many cases the most valuable people are the naturally quiet ones who just get the job done. Just make sure that others around you – and you yourself - are aware of the contribution you make.

Ask for what you want
In a busy workplace, you cannot assume that your boss is psychic. If there is something you want you have to ask for it. This might be a pay-rise, or a promotion, but it might also be something as simple as some training or a new desk. Often they just won’t know unless you tell them. Obviously, you need to ask in an appropriate way and have facts and reason to back your request (particularly if it’s that payrise you are after!), but if it is justified, you may even find your approach works. Don’t be afraid to ask – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Celebrate success
You may sometimes feel that others are not celebrating your successes even when you are being super-visible. However, a support network goes both ways. If you are positive about others’ successes, then it is likely they will be positive about yours in return. This is what makes teams great!

Do a good job
And obviously, visibility is all very well, but is only effective if you are actually doing a good job. So use your health checks, appraisals and reviews to ensure you have the right training and development that will help you work to the best of your ability. Always ask yourself if you are doing the best possible job you can and be honest about your skills and achievements. Listening is a vital skill, so use it to secure feedback on your performance and be tough on yourself about how you are doing. 

It’s only really you who knows how good you are at your job and only you can make a success of your career. 

Article written by Angela Casey, managing director of PR agency Pagoda Porter Novelli

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