by Jennifer R. Farmer
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on what new communicators/public relations staffers can expect walking into a new communications job. There was so much to cover, it was impossible to share everything in one post. I’m sharing other helpful info in this follow-up article. From learning public relations is larger than media, to fangirling over journalists, below is a list of what you can expect as a new-ish communicator.
You’ll idolize journalists.When you spend weeks sending pitching without landing a story, you’ll be elated when you finally capture the attention of the fourth estate. The feeling of getting a return email or voicemail is like receiving money from the friend who borrows but never pays back. It’s like receiving an unexpected deposit in your checking account. Of course, not all journalists are pleasant, but the positive ones far outweigh their counterparts.
You’ll work with consultants. At some point in your career, you’ll work with a communications consultant. If you’re territorial or have control issues, you’ll hate working with consultants. If you’re open to elevating your game, or appreciate having an extra set of hands, you’ll love it. Here’s the thing, not all consultants will be the right fit for you or your organization, but you can learn from every experience. I remember working with a consultant early in my career who was demanding and at times, unpleasant. I would sometimes complain about their approach, but a senior executive helped me to appreciate the opportunity to learn all I could from someone who’d had significantly more experience than I did. With this executive’s coaching, I was able to put personal feelings aside and focus exclusively on what this individual had to offer. When I got out of my feelings, I got on with learning and that I grew tremendously. Another benefit of consultants is they can bring a fresh perspective, helping you generate creative approaches to challenges or get to or remain on the cutting edge. The key is to pick the right one, and then insist they bring you and other communications staff along. In other words, you need to know how the consultant is doing the work as well as their reasoning in order to grow your skill set.
You’ll learn PR is more than media. To expand on my last point, PR pros and our colleagues must remember that PR is more than media relations. Your team’s and your own skills and voice are critical to anything external facing from your company. The executive assistant should not be writing your CEO’s talking points and the program team should not be approving their own materials.
You’ll learn Project Management. Sure, you’re a PR staffer, but you’ll also be a project manager and will use more project management skills than is realized by other industries or taught in communications schools in college. Working with consultants or other departments in your company requires managing them. Consultants are incredibly useful and your colleagues in other departments are critical to your work, but you’ll learn the value in being firm and clear with expectations and goals. If you work as an in-house communications associate with consultants or an agency, you will have to manage your relationship with them in the same way you manage campaigns or initiatives.
Now that I’ve shared my tips, feel free to share them with others. Best of luck!
Jennifer R. Farmer is a strategic communicator, lecturer and the author of “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide.” Connect with her on Facebook.com/Tips4ExtraordinaryPR or visit www.jenniferrfarmer.org.