Making the Grade…in PR

By Ciri Haugh (@chaugh)

As the school year is once again about to come to a close, a pool of new graduates will start to flood the PR workforce. Though, as I think back to my days as a senior in college, and compare it to now – I can’t help but want to share some advice to the newest class of PR professionals. One of the best lessons that any grad should know is that an A in college doesn’t always equal an A in the workforce.

Sound a bit sobering? It’s not meant to bring the mood down but something I personally found to be true, and think its good to remember when approaching that first job. College provides some great skills and a analytical way of thinking. However, not all colleges – and PR programs – are created equal.

So how does a new graduate put their best foot forward? Here are a few tips that I would personally recommend, although every organization (and manager, for that matter) are different:

1.  Be a sponge

There are tons of reports, tools, formatting and stylistic preferences for every organization. It will probably seem overwhelming but take in as much as you can and you’ll be an expert on it before you know it! Find resources to refer to that will supplement your knowledge like the AP Stylebook on Twitter or Microsoft’s Office suite tips.

2.  Network early and often

Get to know other PR professionals, journalists and local influencers early so you can get a feel for the industry. Check out sites like EventBrite or PRSA for events in your area.

3.  Ask for feedback

If you start asking for feedback after projects, you’ll start to learn from mistakes and begin to understand the preferences of your manager, office or client. Mashable posted an article last year that covers how to solicit feedback. Though it was directed at designers, the strategies are still relevant to PR people!

4.  Look for a mentor

It’s not a bad thing to have silly questions or want to have another springboard to bounce ideas off of. A mentor can be those things, and provide insight about career path or answer questions that you might not be comfortable talking to a manager or VP about. Take a look at this US News article on 13 tips on finding a mentor.

5.  Practice, practice, practice

Writing is a huge asset in PR – and you’re expected to excel at it. Find a forum to practice writing and receiving direction on your work. MediaBistro offers a series of writing seminars and courses, though most are paid classes, they do offer free seminars and events.

The point is that at a first job, and especially a PR agency, you’re not expected to know everything. So just jump right in, work hard and ask for help often! You’ll do just fine.

3 Responses to “Making the Grade…in PR”

  1. 1 Valerie Kusler May 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Great tips. So glad I’m not in that pool of graduates — it can be such a daunting transition to make! But by being proactive with activities like these, surely graduates can set themselves apart from the pack.

  1. 1 Ducks On a Mission Trackback on May 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm
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