Coming straight out of further education and jumping in to the world of work can seem pretty daunting, especially if Digital PR or Marketing is your chosen career path. Whether it’s an internship, placement or entry level role, everyone has to start somewhere. So, I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts for those who are just beginning, or preparing to begin their first role in PR.
My first piece of advice is to accept the ‘newbie’ status, the work that comes with it and just get on with it. As I said, everyone has to start from somewhere.
Secondly, read the news every day. If you work in this industry, you have to be on the ball with current affairs. In PR and marketing, you’re expected to be ‘in the know’, and what’s new in your clients’ industries.
I’m not saying you have to buy The Guardian on the way to work every morning, but scan Twitter, go on news websites, and catch up in whichever way is most comfortable to you. I check the BBC News app every morning on the bus.
You should stay organised and never miss a deadline. All entry level roles are different, but find a routine that works and stick with it. Some jobs have strict deadlines and schedules, and some are more flexible with freedom to work at your own pace. Find what works for you and makes you most efficient.
Be confident in your abilities. Make sure any new task doesn’t phase you. Confident people can often inspire confidence in others: their colleagues, their bosses, their clients, and their friends.
Learn fast! You are in control of how quickly you learn a new skill. Put in the time, ask the right questions, reach out, and undertake independent learning. It’s in the business’ interests to invest in you, but you should also be proactive and seek new information yourself.
Pay attention to the company culture. This is one of the best ways to engage with your colleagues, build rapport, and have fun! If you’re asked “do you want to do a dragon boat race for charity?” You should say “yes”!
Understand your client’s industry. Become a mini expert in all sectors; education, engineering, public sector builds, sports equipment, etc…
Speak up and ask questions. In your first job, throw out ideas to your boss. Sometimes it takes time for new recruits to speak up and let people know their opinion. If you’re learning and don’t want to be wrong, ask around for help and advice. This is much better than getting it wrong because you’re too proud. Shows your employer you’re engaged and actively working on the task.
This one’s super important. You need to learn how to fall in love with rejection, it’s a part of life. Embrace it. Editors, journalists and webmasters can be ruthless. I got this the other day:
(I have replaced the actual word used in the subject line with a lovely emoji).
Get over it and move on, there are opportunities elsewhere. If what you’re providing is real value, it’s their loss anyway.
Use social media to boost your presence, and build networks. Follow and engage with key influencers and PR people on Twitter, upload your blogs on LinkedIn, use it almost like a portfolio for you and for your employers. It’s all about building reputation and personal brand.
Learn to prioritise and juggle responsibilities fast! Every client thinks they’re your number one priority, you need to get up to speed on setting your own priorities and managing your time. I’m a firm believer of a to do list. It helps to manage and deliver the larger, time sensitive tasks whilst maintaining the smaller projects.
(Obviously I have more to do than just write this blog!)
Don’t take things personally. This is similar to learning to get over rejections. But I’ve included this as it is great life advice for not only your first job, but also in general.
Finally, the most important point of all, figure out the coffee situation quick. Offer to make a drink for everyone else in the office, pull your weight and don’t make a bad cup of tea or coffee, as you will forever be remembered for it. Office politics and dynamics are hugely important, and this is a quick win and a great way to get off to a good start.
My parting advice is to always be professional, and treat everything as client facing to avoid silly mistakes.
Be motivated, curious and tenacious.
Anything to add? Or if you’re just starting out and have any questions… feel free to comment below.
— Alex Jones (@alexjonespr) August 12, 2016