After turning my internship at Hodges into my first real job, no one has been able to scare me away, yet. During my first year working in an agency I’ve had a variety of experiences – writing pitches, helping to plan the office holiday party, creating social content for clients and keeping the supply of caffeine and sugar at an all-time high. Here are the eight lessons I’ve learned during my first year in PR:
- Time management is important. Working at an agency means you’ll have quite a few balls in the air at one time, and it’s your job to ensure that none of them hit the ground. Turning in something late no longer means getting a bad grade, it means an angry client. Always ask for clear deadlines and break your habit of procrastination early.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. Your ideas are valid. At THP we do agency brainstorms twice a month and everyone is expected to contribute. Whether you’ve been in your job for five weeks or for five years, provide thoughtful input. Don’t blurt out all 50 ideas you have but don’t be afraid to share the ones you feel strongly about.
- Ask for feedback. Create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing constructive criticism with you. Did you write your first pitch? Ask for honest edits and advice from a coworker. Asking for feedback now will help you to avoid developing bad habits that will be hard to fix later in your career.
- Social Media will continue to change. In the past year Facebook redesigned its timeline and newsfeed, Twitter drastically changed the layout of its profiles and LinkedIn launched Sponsored Updates, changing the game for companies using the platform. Stay knowledgeable on these constant changes and be flexible to changing your social strategies.
- Writing takes practice. There are major differences in writing the 15 page research papers you wrote in college and PR writing. Pitches and press releases should be short and concise, while also eye catching and interesting. Blog and social content should fit the client’s voice and tone. And if you’re writing for a B2B client, learning how to be a great technical writer will be important. Raise your hand for writing projects when they come up; it’s the only way to gain valuable experience.
- Do your research on reporters. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about media relations during this past year, it is to spend valuable time researching who you’re pitching and know what they are interested in. Doing this won’t guarantee a story, but it increases the likelihood that they will acknowledge your pitch or keep your information for when they have a story that is a fit for your client.
- Don’t be the last one to arrive and the first one to leave. There’s no such thing as homework in the real world, but there are times where there just isn’t enough time in your work day to get everything done. That means coming in early or staying late. Trust me, your coworkers and bosses will notice if you’re always the last one to arrive in the morning and the first one to leave.
- Don’t be discouraged. There will be days where you send out the perfect pitch to a reporter that should jump at the opportunity to cover your client, and you’ll hear crickets. And there will be days where things just can’t seem to go right. Don’t let the bad days discourage you from working hard and doing your best work.
But hands down, the most important thing I’ve learned at Hodges is that the number of days without donuts WILL determine office happiness (read: that number needs to be low). If you’re in your first year in PR, share what you’ve learned in the comments below.