A colleague of mine in the PR world, Ben Matthews, recently wrote a post on his blog, Pudding Relations, listing out 3 top tips for those looking into a career in Public Relations. This meme was passed on to him by Adam Lewis over at Flawless Buzz. I will pass this along as I know lots of you out there are getting ready to graduate from your respective programs in college and want to know some of the in’s and out’s of life in PR.
Keep in mind, of course, that I work in a support capacity at Waggener Edstrom – I am not a PR account person, but I do touch account people daily because I work on the staffing team. I’ve learned over the last 15 or so months of being here some of what it takes to be successful in an account role in Public Relations. I’ve come to discover that there are a lot of similarities between what I do daily and what PR folks do daily, and this is probably why I’m having so much fun these days!
Back to Ben’s request: the meme has three questions to it, with the aim of helping people looking to get into PR:
- What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone entering the world of PR?
- The favorite part of your job?
- Why did you decide to go into PR?
Let me preface all of my responses with a simple explanation of what my role is at Waggener Edstrom. As I mentioned above, I do not work on the account side of things in the PR world. I am a Sourcing Strategist, and for those of you who follow me on Twitter, or have read my LinkedIn profile, the easiest way I can describe what I do is that I am a professional match-maker. I develop online profiles of individuals who might be a fit for our job openings at Waggener, and if they’re a fit I make connections for the recruiters with whom I work. I piece together bits of information I find scattered across the Internet to form a “person” – I find these info bites from your social networks, blogs, company websites, press releases, etc. I’ve been jokingly called a stalker before, but that’s totally not what I do – don’t worry, I never use my information for evil. I prefer to be referred to as the Magnum P.I. of the Internet. So, even though I don’t operate in an account capacity, I am mingling with PR account folks on a daily basis. Hope that puts some perspective on my responses to this meme.
- What is one piece of advice you would give to someone entering the world of PR? If I only had one piece of advice to offer someone who was just entering into the world of PR it would be this: respect wisdom and experience. When I first started at Waggener, I began asking my peers who in the company had been there for awhile, and who the best people in the industry were. I then set about to try to introduce myself to as many of my new coworkers as possible (which proved a difficult task at times, as I work remotely). I used LinkedIn and Facebook to accomplish this and was able to make connections with over 100 of my colleagues within the first month of my employment. In addition, Waggener has a formal Mentor/Mentee program set up, so I signed up for that within the first couple of months and got hooked up with one of our VPs who has been a tremendous source of knowledge for me. I also took a pulse-check of my networks to see where I should be looking for outside knowledge. I used LinkedIn Answers to pose a question to my network on what blogs and industry publications I should be reading, and with whom I should be connected. This helped me build a reading base which I set up in RSS and try to read on a daily basis to keep up. One of the most unfortunate things I see a lot of new young professionals doing today is thinking that they learned everything they need to know in college. College helps you build a good knowledge base, but I think every working professional would agree that the School of Life is where you learn the must useful stuff. Gleaning real-world wisdom from those who’ve walked the paths before you is the best way for you to get settled into PR when you first enter into it.
- What is your favorite part of your job? This is hands-down the people and the communication. I have enjoyed working in the communication field so much for the past year and a half. I’ve been a researcher for nearly 7 years now, and I find that doing research in the PR world has allowed me to combine two things that I love – technology and communication. People who know me know that I can quite often be a terrible over-communicator. It must be the combination of working alone from home, and working behind 2 computer screens on a daily basis. I absolutely l-o-o-o-o-o-ve the fact that I get to “play” with Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook every day to communicate with people. What’s more, I get to communicate great opportunities to people, and in these tough economic times, my outreach is usually music to people’s ears (eyes?). The fact that there’s a potential that I could improve upon someone’s work situation with each outreach makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Now, my situation obviously is different, but for those who love the technology/communication combo, PR is a fantastic field to be in.
- Why did you decide to go into PR? Well, this is where my answer is probably not going to line up with an account person’s. I actually accidentally stumbled into PR, just as I had accidentally stumbled into internet research (which is a good story all its own). The story of how networking got me my job at Waggener is actually quite interesting and weaves a neat web of people – it’s posted on my friend Jim Stroud’s website here. Long story short though, my decision to join Waggener, and the world of PR, was because the opportunity to work with an innovative and highly respected company in a brand new field was intriguing and exciting. I was not feeling challenged in the right ways in my then-current situation and needed something more. Waggener has certainly provided that for me – I have been learning not only public relations, but social media strategy, client interaction, and corporate culture as well as staying connected within my recruiting and research community. It is overwhelming at times, but I’ve often said that if you’re not green and growing, you’re red and rotting.
Now, in keeping this meme alive, I am going to tag three additional people to spread the love: one PR student, one PR Young Gun, and one PR veteran:
- The PR Student: Paul Matson, The Social Media Institute
- The PR Young Gun: Paull Young, Young PR
- The PR Veteran: Kevin Dugan, The Bad Pich Blog and Strategic Public Relations