Posts Tagged 'mentor'

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.

Molding the Future

*This post comes to you from Senior Account Manager and rock star, Amanda Munroe (@ABMBoston)…

Mentor – noun \ˈmen-ˌtȯr, -tər\ a : a trusted counselor or guide b : tutor, coach

In Greek mythology, Mentor was the friend and trusted counselor of Odysseus (legendary king and hero of Homer’s Odyssey). Given their relationship, Mentor was assigned the enormous responsibility of raising Odysseus’s son when he was away fighting in Troy. Naturally, Mentor formed a near-paternal bond with the child, and, as a result, the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning a “father-like teacher.”

Thankfully, in business, mentors aren’t necessarily called upon to raise someone’s child for 20 years (phew!). Yet, they serve a vital role and can help fuel personal and professional growth. In PR, mentors can help make sense of the insanity, share real-world experiences and lessons learned, and push you out of your comfort zone so you can become the PR pro you want to be.

When I started working at SHIFT more than six years ago, I was excited to start my first job at an agency. I had always considered myself a good writer, having majored in journalism, and thought my time management skills were top-notch, the result of always working two (or three) jobs in high school and college. I had no idea what I was in for. Within a month, I thought I made a terrible mistake and didn’t think I was cut out for the fast-paced and perfection-driven world of agency life. I was failing every day – making errors both small (missing internal deadlines) and monumental (sending a sensitive document to the wrong client). I was ready to call it quits.

But then I talked to a senior staff member and she changed everything. She told me to take a deep breath and said that everyone feels that way their first few months. She gave me real-world tips and tricks to help me manage my time and pay attention to detail. Once I mastered those, she pushed me to think bigger –let me know that speaking up in client meetings was the best way to impress a client and position myself as a rock star to my boss. When I was nervous about networking, she told me to get over it and reinforced how it would help me with my job. A couple of years later, when I was taking the job way too seriously, she reminded me that it was just PR – no lives would be lost if a client had more than a few edits to my press release. To this day, I still consider her a mentor and one of my closest friends.

I obviously stayed at SHIFT and worked my way up into a management position. Soon, I found myself being asked by other SHIFTers to be their mentor. Me? What words of wisdom did I possibly have, I wondered. But once I talked to the ACs and AEs looking for guidance, I realized they weren’t asking for pearls but, instead, the same thing I needed six years ago. They wanted to know how they could impress their managers and clients. How to break through a publication that never accepts a pitch or covers a certain company. How to get ahead when, sometimes, you feel like you can’t possibly do enough. It’s rewarding to give them advice and then see them come into my office, all smiles, when they’ve accomplished their goal. Because of them, I’ve pushed myself to do better in my own job too.

At SHIFT, we’ve recently revamped our Mentor Program and I’m excited to lead this task. The mentor/mentee relationship offers rewards for both and benefits the individuals, as well as the Company. When rolling out the new program, we encouraged mentees to look for mentors that are people they aspire to be like and trust, but aren’t going to just tell them what they want to hear. I know that worked wonders for me.

Do you have a mentor? How has the relationship impacted you?