• Bri Cooper

The Top 5 Things any New PR Professional Should Know (And, it might surprise you)

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

So, you’ve graduated college, have a sparkly new diploma (once it arrives in the mail) and a hard-earned degree to go with it. After completing a ton of courses, exams, presentations and internships, you’re ready to enter the working world of public relations. Full of expectations, busy work-weeks and a whole different adventure. At least, you think you are.

Maybe. Wait, what?

Don’t be afraid. Really.

You are more ready than you know. And, here are a few tips that will help you make a genuine mark in the industry.

1. Your brand is your bond.

The concept of a brand goes much deeper than a logo and a catchy slogan. And these days, individual branding is just as important as corporate imaging. Sit down over a cup of coffee and one of those fancy croissants (you know, the kind with the chocolate inside?) and take a moment to think. Think about your brand. What are you all about? What genre of PR are you interested in? What are your passions? Where do you see yourself fitting in? What unique qualities can you bring to the table? Then, incorporate your identity into your website, social media platforms, personal networking – everything. This will help you roadmap the industry and be known as a specialized, and competitive, force.

2. You are new – have the courage to learn.

You might be feeling like you need to prove yourself. Look at you, new grad all cute and freshly educated – now go! Perform, be perfect. Right? Actually, you will have more success in the public relations world if you ask questions, learn communication preferences with your employers, shadow senior colleagues – have the courage to speak up and say – you don’t have all the answers. Find a mentor. And then, listen. You will develop and mature as a professional with fewer bumps in the road, and you will foster deeper relationships with colleagues and industry leaders by being a lifelong learner and thought-leader.

3. Be the difference - maker.

Recent grads need to stand out. Plain and simple. There are tons of freshly opened diploma-sized envelopes in trash cans across the nation each semester. But how recent grads stand out make all the difference. Public relations isn’t a flashy industry, full of catch phrases, one-liners and surface-spin. It’s about advocacy. Creating movements that cause change. Shifting the paradigm. Conceptualizing value, opinion, behavior. Be a part of that public relations – be about deepening the community and influencing people.

4. When the textbook and work collide.

You’ve studied, read, presented and done countless pages of homework. You know key industry definitions, you’ve memorized best practices and campaign strategies. You can recite every key concept and fill in every chart. But then you start your first job. And your mind is blown – and it’s not a bad thing. There is a natural transition from “Book PR” to “Real Life PR”. You saw a glimmer of this in your internships. You know that feeling – walking out the door of the office at the end of the day a little confused, perplexed even, that your supervisor didn’t follow AP protocol on that press release; that the RPIE process for that campaign pitch didn’t go quite the way you learned in class. Just breathe. There is a House Style for every company (and even for you) and once you learn that modality, you’ll be able to both embrace those techniques and blend them with your educational background very well.

5. Perfecting the “humble confidence” gig.

We’ve heard it a hundred times, right? They can smell fear. Be confident, even if you have to fake it. And, while it’s true that industry leaders are looking for strong candidates to join their teams, there is a big difference between being ostentatious and overly flashy and being vulnerable yet definite. Don’t try to show off, especially if you actually don’t have much yet to show. They know it. They know you are a recent grad and what that means. And, they’ve seen many a candidate try to win them over with big words. What they don’t know (yet) is that you are poised, reserved, respectful, inquisitive, eager and ready to learn. Impress them by showing your vulnerability.

And, that’s it. Well, that’s a start at least. And it’s a good one. You are ready. And, if you need reminding – just take a look at that new diploma hanging on your wall. You didn’t earn that thing by juggling bean bags or weaving baskets underwater.

You have all the tools, all the training, all the education – now go, fearless graduate.

Make a mark in this world.

Professor Sinclair

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