How to look after your PR career

One advantage of working in PR is that it is possible to move up the career ladder fairly swiftly. Sarah Kent, managing director of agency Whistle PR, believes the industry offers significant opportunities to fast-track your career, as there is less reliance on getting miles on the clock: “Some of the best people I’ve worked with have gone from account executive to account director in just a couple of years.” Below Kent, and other successful PROs, offer key pieces of advice to help you move onwards and upwards.

From Sarah Kent:

1. Keep on top of your own training and development
“Take responsibility for your own professional development. Identify your skills and experience gaps and put yourself forward for training to address them. Learn in your own time too, taking advantage of the wealth of books, podcasts and free online resources that are available. Surround yourself with a network of positive and successful people who might be able to help your career – why not approach someone you respect and admire to see if they are prepared to mentor you?

“The important thing is to have some clear career goals and a plan of action in place to achieve them.”

From Ruby Harrison, digital PR and outreach executive at marketing agency Hallam:

2. Build relationships
“The most fundamental part of working in PR is building relationships. Whether that be with journalists, clients or co-workers, good relationship-building skills will undoubtedly help you to excel in your career.

“A strong relationship with your client allows you to have a joint vision of where you want to be and how you want to get there, and the more journalists you get to know – the easier it becomes to gain high-quality coverage on relevant websites.”

3. Nurture your creativity
“It is no secret that to work in PR, a creative mind is key – make sure you never lose this. Try regular ideation sessions with your team and other staff in the company as this will help to spark new ideas and allows you to gain perspective from outside the PR bubble – it may also spark new ideas in you.”

From Olivia Wiltshire, senior consultant at digital marketing agency Builtvisible:

4. Demonstrate the value of PR
“In a time when some are questioning budgets and specifically the effectiveness of digital PR, it is more important than ever to be able to demonstrate the value of PR. However, showcasing value to your clients is nothing new and arguably the greatest struggle for PROs. If you can successfully master this – which I think is only possible by using tangible metrics as a result of PR activity – then you will become an undisputed integral cog in the PR wheel which can only mean good things when it comes to climbing that ladder.”

5. Collaborate with outside teams
“One great way to get noticed is if you are able to successfully collaborate with an external or client PR team. Working with another PR team is a scenario that I often see throwing up complications and it can be extremely frustrating for all involved, stilting progress as a result. If you can navigate this situation by being proactive and offering up agile ways of working from the get-go then this will surely not go unnoticed.”

From Luciana Ianari, client manager at agency Milk & Honey PR:

6. Push beyond your job description
“Once you’ve proven that you are capable of delivering what is expected of you at your current level, ask for more responsibility. Put up your hand and see if there is anything else you can be working on to help grow the company or progress a project. A simple ‘how can I get involved?’ will go a long way. What’s great is that you get an opportunity to develop new skills, but without the expectation of it being perfect. Proactivity and passion will get you noticed.”

7. Document your achievements
“Keep track of quantifiable results to cite and showcase your progress and contribution to the team. Has your work had an impact on a client’s KPIs? What’s been the total reach of coverage? Organic growth of agency portfolio through pitching? Document it.”

8. Be proactive
“Don’t be afraid to take charge of projects or share your opinions with the wider team. This shows leadership potential, a skill essential for promotion. Just make sure that your opinions are carefully thought out and backed up by research. Ask lots of questions, whether that be feedback on your current work or questioning certain client activities. Curiosity and an eagerness to learn is what an employer will be after.”

If you are determined to move forwards in your career, that determination coupled with a willingness to work hard, will ensure that your talents are bound to get noticed and ultimately rewarded.