Embarking on a fulfilling journey in Public Relations (PR) has been a rewarding experience for me over the past seven years. From the start, I recognized the presence of seasoned industry professionals who have made significant and noteworthy impacts.
Regardless of your chosen field within PR and Communications, it’s crucial to identify industry trailblazers to learn from and follow. Additionally, a willingness to learn, accept criticism, and embrace innovation is vital. In this article, I will share ten hacks that have empowered my PR and Communications career, providing valuable advice to young professionals.
Seek Out a Mentor
As a student or young professional, finding someone you admire in the industry and asking them to be your mentor can be immensely beneficial. Platforms like LinkedIn offer opportunities to connect with mentors who can provide guidance.
However, it’s important to approach mentorship with a clear plan or goal and demonstrate commitment. I owe much of my growth to the exceptional bosses I’ve had the privilege to work with, including Mr. Kenneth Kwawu, Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, Sadat Laminu, and Henry Dottey.
Seek for Volunteering/ Internship Opportunities
In addition to seeking out a mentor, it is highly beneficial to actively pursue volunteer opportunities and internships to develop your skills and build your portfolio. Rather than waiting for opportunities to come your way, take the initiative to actively seek them out.
Volunteering allows you to provide support while gaining practical experience in your desired field. It enables you to contribute to causes you are passionate about, acquire new skills, expand your professional network, and enhance your resume. Explore local organizations, non-profits, or community initiatives aligned with your interests and offer your time and expertise.
Internships offer valuable hands-on experience and the chance to learn from professionals in your chosen industry. They often provide structured training, mentorship, and exposure to day-to-day operations, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Internships also facilitate networking and allow you to establish meaningful connections. Seek internships in your field of interest through online platforms, professional networks, or direct outreach to organizations.
By actively pursuing volunteer opportunities and internships, you demonstrate proactive engagement, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to personal and professional growth. These experiences will help you acquire new skills, showcase your abilities, and develop a robust portfolio. Remember to approach these endeavours with enthusiasm and initiative, as they can significantly contribute to your overall development.
Pursue Your Passion and Establish a Niche
While it’s valuable to acquire expertise in various fields, it is best to follow your passion and specialize in a specific area. When you align your work with your passion and carve out a niche for yourself, you can deliver your best and hone your skills in that particular domain. With numerous avenues to explore, let your passions guide you. For instance, if you have a passion for fashion, develop your skills in Fashion PR. If you excel at managing people, seek opportunities to enhance your leadership abilities.
Mistakes are inevitable, especially early on in your career. However, how you respond to those mistakes determines your future progress. I have made my fair share of mistakes, but practicing self-compassion and drawing motivation from mentors and senior colleagues has been instrumental. Take things one step at a time, seek guidance when needed, and invest time in understanding the industry to build confidence in your ability to speak and write authoritatively.
Cultivate Media Relationships
Building strong media relations is a fundamental skill for PR and Communications professionals. You’ll often rely on the media to amplify your work, promote clients, and share relevant information. One effective way to achieve this is by connecting with key journalists in your field of focus, engaging with their posts and articles, and fostering authentic partnerships and relationships—not solely seeking favors.
Expand Your Network Online
Connecting with professionals in the PR industry whom you admire and wish to learn from can be a game-changer. Many PR practitioners are eager to assist newcomers and those seeking career progression. Utilize social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to connect, read and analyze their posts, engage with comments, and likes, and take the extra step of messaging individuals respectfully with well-thought-out questions.
Leverage Industry Resources
To thrive as a 21st-century PR practitioner, it is crucial to continually update your knowledge and skills by making use of available resources, both online and offline. Key industry bodies such as the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), Women in Public Relations (WIPR), Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) offer ample opportunities for learning, skill development, and staying informed about industry news.
Read Books, Blogs, and Articles
I highly recommend reading blogs and articles by PR professionals you admire. Our industry evolves rapidly, and keeping up with diverse opinions and shared experiences can be incredibly valuable. Engaging with different perspectives has enriched my thought patterns and improved my writing skills.
Find the Right Training Courses
Participating in webinars and training courses offers numerous benefits, including refreshing your existing skills and acquiring new competencies to advance your career. An array of courses caters to both entry-level professionals and seasoned practitioners. Many online platforms offer free and paid courses, showcasing your commitment to continuous personal development (CPD) and signalling to employers your eagerness to grow.
Seek Guidance from Colleagues
Your colleagues form a valuable support system, offering knowledge-sharing and aiding your career development. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions; we all learn from one another’s experiences. Even now, I regularly seek advice from my senior colleagues, benefiting from their insights on projects and making my work easier.
Connect In-Person with PR Professionals
Make it a priority to add PR events to your annual calendar and ensure your attendance, whether they are virtual or in-person. Listening to the experiences of other PR professionals, sharing success stories, and discussing strategies for overcoming challenges can ignite your passion and provide valuable insights. Building connections and learning from others is key to getting ahead, and events and seminars offer an excellent opportunity to achieve both.
Navigating the strategies
As you embark on your PR and Communications career, these ten hacks will empower you to navigate the industry successfully. Remember to seek guidance from mentors, follow your passions, be kind to yourself, cultivate media relationships, expand your network, leverage available resources, stay informed, invest in training, seek advice from colleagues, and connect with professionals face-to-face. Embrace these strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to a thriving PR and Communications career.
>>>the writer is a certified PR & Communications Consultant. She can be reached via [email protected] and on LinkedIn @Phoebe Pappoe.