Looking back on my first year at Stanton Communications, I am grateful for all that I have learned about the industry and myself, and I am excited for the future. Working at a public relations (PR) agency means a fast-paced environment filled to the brim with creativity, collaboration and variety. I contribute work to a client portfolio that extends across industries, including nonprofits, corporations and trade associations. Collaborating on media relations efforts with my internal teams and clients has been an invaluable learning experience as I kickstarted my career as a public relations professional.
Primarily, my work focuses on generating earned media coverage, including building media lists, identifying relevant editorial opportunities, monitoring for media coverage and pitching reporters. Watching this work go from an idea to a published article or TV segment motivates me; it is not only rewarding but also fun! No day is the same, but I have noticed some continuously important themes and skills in my own experience that I believe contribute to achieving success.
Here are three major lessons I have learned in my first year of agency life:
Get to Know Your Clients Well
Working with multiple clients, across different industries, offers a public relations professional the unique experience of diversity. Your clients are always the main priority, and whether it is a recognizable brand, or a new player, I’ve found that it is important to learn everything you can about the history of the client as well as take notice of the day-to-day news in their industry. This is especially important as you initiate the work. While you may be monitoring news about the client daily, it is important to take some extra time to read about other aspects of their industry. This will not only contribute to a more holistic understanding of the work you are doing but also prepare you for any new tasks that may come up along the way. When clients see how energized and committed you are, it will only elevate the relationship further.
At an agency, no two days are the same. Day-to-day change is expected and staying organized can prepare you for any obstacles you might encounter, such as a new and exciting project that comes out of left field. For me, this means starting the week off with an organization of main priorities to guide my work for the week. Having multiple accounts, it may be helpful to categorize your to do list by client and try to order items by priority. The format of this can vary, depending on what works best for you. I’ve found that utilizing an online Excel sheet which allows for easily changing sections of my list with my progress, is most beneficial. It is also prudent to check in frequently with your to do list. Sometimes a workday can be dominated by time sensitive projects, and you lose track of something else you were planning to work on. In this case, the best thing to do is communicate clearly with your other team members and work on reprioritizing your deliverables. Organization is not a linear process, there will be ups and downs, but it won’t hurt you to stay on top of it to the best of your ability!
Be a Sponge
One of the most important considerations when entering any industry or new role is to stay curious. Seek and absorb all the new information you are being presented, and then some! Working at a small to mid-size agency gives you more of a chance to work with team members whose careers and experience are at a much higher level than you may be, and you should take that opportunity to learn as much as you can. By staying engaged and learning, you are making yourself a better coworker, professional, and person; Having a consistent mindset of openness can increase your likelihood of having new experiences. The main point of this is to ask questions, but also listen. Listening with intention to the people around you is one of the most fundamental skills communication professionals possess, because when you listen with intention you act with intention. In my opinion, there is no better time to hone this skill than at the beginning of your career.
A common theme you may have noticed in the lessons listed above is fluidity. I believe that we are constantly changing, and that is what makes us unique and successful as public relations professionals. Being at the beginning of my career in the industry, I am grateful for the environment Stanton has provided me to continue to evolve and grow, learning these lessons along the way. The industry we work in is a constantly changing landscape, and so are we! Creating and continuing to build on a foundational set of skills as you evolve as a professional is what is important in achieving success for yourself, team and client.