June will mark my one-year anniversary as a member of the Integrate Public Relations crew, which means I have survived my first official year in the wild and crazy world of public relations. As I think back on my time here and how much I’ve learned, the class of 2014 is gearing up for graduation and preparing to head out into the real world. For the new college grads that will be entering the public relations workforce, I have a few tips on what to expect and how to manage during your first year on the job!
Prioritize: The fact that there are only 24 hours in a day (and you have to eat and sleep at some point) can be one of the biggest struggles in the public relations world. When you work in a PR agency setting, you will always be juggling multiple projects for multiple clients at the same time, so prioritizing tasks each day is essential to making sure you are able to maximize your productivity every hour. To help with this, end each workday by making a list of all of your to-dos for the next day, and prioritize tasks that must be completed the next day and things that you would like to get done, if you have extra time. This will help put your tasks into perspective and allow you to hit the ground running the next morning.
Organize: One of my favorite things about working in public relations is that, for better or worse, you never really know what the day has in store. If you follow the above advice, you will walk into the office each day with your plan of attack neatly mapped out and ready to start checking items off that to-do list. Some days, things will run smoothly and you will be able to knock off one task after another. Then there are days when “drop everything” moments occur. A journalist you’ve been reaching out to for months might get in touch with you and request a client interview for that same day, or you might have to deal with an unexpected crisis situation that puts all of your previous to-dos for the day on the back burner. Because this job is very fast-paced and things can change at a moments notice, it is crucial to be as organized as possible so that when these unexpected events happen, you aren’t left scrambling to find an important document or searching for a key media contact.
Ask questions: Your first year in public relations is a lot like your first year of life; everyday you will be learning how to do new things and absorbing tons of new information that will hopefully provide a solid foundation for long-term career success. Because it’s so important to learn as much as possible in that first year, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most people remember what their first years were like and are happy to help you out.
Read: If you thought you were done with excessive amounts of reading now that you’ve got your diploma in hand, I have some bad (or good!) news for you; reading is an essential part of this job and you need to be reading anything you can get your hands on. You will need to read magazines, blogs and newspapers that are relevant to your clients’ industries in order to keep up with what industry influencers are talking about. It’s always important to keep up with general local and national news, because you never know when a client opportunity will present itself.
Yes, a day-in-the life of a public relations pro is always fast-paced with a lot of moving parts, and unexpected bumps in the road should always be expected. But if you can roll with punches and embrace the unpredictable moments by being as prepared as possible when they arise, you will be just fine.
Oh, and I hope you like coffee; you’re going to need it!
Written by: Ahna Gavrelos