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Lessons on learning in PR

Learning is a constant process. We are fortunate, working in PR, to have two industry bodies, the CIPR and PRCA, which both offer good training courses, as well as many highly skilled practitioners to from whom to learn. Adding an assessment of training and development needs into annual appraisals is an obvious way to ensure that staff develop and grow, but we should all be thinking about our training on a daily basis.

We should, however, never ever underestimate the invaluable learning we assimilate on the job. Whether it is through feedback on a press release, talking through a media list, or joining in a team activity, we can all learn from everyone we work with. We also learn well from making mistakes. I remember silly mistakes I made as an account executive, which still remind me to check media and stakeholder lists carefully. It’s the stuff of night sweats.

Learning is particularly important in PR, not least as our industry is currently going through such a huge revolution. Every week, new forms of social media are announced, while the growth in use of online video has seen an explosion.  Never before has keeping up to speed with new developments been so important. If you don’t already follow social media news, make sure you do so now. Keeping an eye on new sites, apps, opportunities and technology is essential. Our global social media team, PNConnect, issues a weekly update, which is a terrific way to absorb information quickly – and I really value it.

If there is one bit of training you sign up to in the next few months that will genuinely develop your career, it should be in videography. Cisco has predicted that consumer internet video will rise to over 80% of internet traffic by 2019, with consumer video on demand traffic doubling in the same timescale. If that does not convince you, nothing will.

In the next two years the use of video within PR should therefore grow even faster. It is vital in our industry to remain ahead of the curve, so signing up to a video course simply cannot wait for your next appraisal.  At the same time, it would be a good idea to consider how you will use your new-found video skills, whether in creating a video diary from an event, a filmed story as background to your press release, or content about how you do your job. These are all valid uses.

You might think that, by the time you reach my stage in the industry, there is little left to learn. Obviously, however, this is not the case at all. I still sign up for training courses, including a videography one last week, and I often learn things from my colleagues: every person I have worked with has been unique in their own way. So learning will stay with us all throughout our lives and careers and is an important part of development. Make sure you keep track of your learning, whether on the job or on a course, every day.

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

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