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Why it is important to be flexible throughout your PR career

We are always told that change is good. While for many people changing jobs is a positive thing, many also find it unsettling and difficult. The same goes for moving from one specialism to another. However, while at first it might be scary to make yourself learn a new skill, building sectoral experience and learning new things is always a good thing.

Working within PR gives you the opportunity to gather a terrific range of experiences and skills which can take you into a multi-directional career, if that is what you are after. However, in order to build the best portfolio, you do need to embrace change and get good skills under your belt.

The debate about specialisms continues to run. I have said before that having a specialism is potentially career limiting and that the best PR practitioners can turn their hand to a wide spectrum of sectors and expertise. This is particularly important when so many elements of PR, such as crisis or social media, require thinking on your feet. Having a repository of experience from which to draw when creating a PR strategy or responding to a crisis, can only bring a wider perspective.

I made one large switch during my career, moving from public affairs to mainstream PR. At the time it seemed slightly nerve-wracking, though I was senior enough that I had experiences and skills to call upon. And the move was one I never regretted, bringing a broad range of skills that have been really useful in my everyday PR life.

In recent weeks, my team has merged with another business and we are now part of a much larger organisation. Bringing together public affairs, media relations, social media, internal communications and public consultation expertise, we have created a strong consultancy. Within it I am encouraging both teams to widen their experience by cross-working on the very different PR sectors we have pulled together. And experience from years ago is helping to inform the new challenges I, and we, face.

Flexibility is a valuable tool. It helps change to be less painful and enables you to identify opportunities to work with different people and in new areas. If you can embrace change and learn to relish it, while building up your skillset, your career will take off. We can all learn from the people around us and I particularly enjoy working with new people and seeing the creativity and different approach they bring to a job. While I appreciate this approach is easier within a consultancy than in-house, there could still be options for a short-term secondment or different roles within a comms team. Just ask!

In previous posts I have extolled the virtues of career planning and of knowing the direction you want to go. A bit of pre-planning can also help you identify opportunities for change and diversity within your current set-up, or within future roles you might like to take on. If you know where you want to get to, a little variety along the way makes the journey more exhilarating.

After 17 years of sitting in the same chair, I am thrilled this month to have a new desk, new view from the window and a tremendous bunch of new colleagues to work with. Even MDs can move onward and upward, and I love the change.

Of course change can be difficult, but it is always better than standing still. By changing jobs, taking on new challenges and learning from those around you, you can strengthen and build on your personal skill-set. We never stop learning and developing, which is why professional PR life can be so rewarding.

This article was written by Angela Casey is the managing director at PR firm Pagoda Porter Novelli

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