Excelling during your first year in PR is all about setting yourself up for success with basic best practices. In this six-part series, we’ll dive into the anatomy of the first 365 days of agency life and share methods for success for each stage.
- Days 1-30: Learn
- Days 30-90: Structure
- Days 90-180: Do
- Intermission: Battling Burnout
- Days 180-365: Grow
- Days 365-???: Teach
Once you hit the 3-month mark at your first PR agency, you probably have a pretty clear sense of whether agency life is for you or not. So if you’re still here, congratulations! Now embrace your fate: things are going to get crazy. But thanks to the killer organizational skills and good work habits you developed in your first 90 days, you’re more than ready for it. You’ll probably even love it.
Just do it.
Dedication and perseverance aren’t just for Jedi. In PR, you’ll never see any results if you don’t take action and doggedly follow through. Pitch or don’t pitch. There is no “try.”
It can be hard to put yourself out there when you’re not 100% confident. Of course, it’s crucial that your pitches are well crafted and tailored, but at some point you have to throw caution to the wind and hit “send.” Even great pitches don’t always get bites. That just means timing or the topic didn’t quite match up for the reporter. It’s not a reason to give up – it’s a reason to approach the pitch from a different angle next time.
Prioritize, with a healthy dose of realism.
The “do or do not” mentality works for more than just pitching. It’s a great way to motivate yourself to crank out high-quality deliverables under impending deadlines. That being said, it’s also important to remember that you can’t “do” everything at once. Attempting to do so is a set-up for failure that usually results in accomplishing little work, or a lot of low-quality work.
The key is to find a balance between what’s urgent and what’s realistic. If you don’t know where to start first or are simply feeling overwhelmed, it’s never a bad idea to ask a manager to help you rank your assignments in order of priority. Keep in mind that “not urgent” doesn’t mean “not important” – you will get it done, just not all at the same time.
It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
“I know that I know nothing” makes you sound very wise and cool (thanks, Socrates). But no, really! There’s nothing unprofessional about admitting you don’t know something to a boss, a client, or a media contact.
There will be plenty of times when you don’t have all the answers, because you’re not omniscient. It would be unprofessional to bluff your way through and potentially give out incorrect information. On the other hand, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out for you right away,” is not only honest, it shows that you care about providing accurate info. The best part: most people will respond positively to your admission. After all, they don’t know everything either!
Challenge yourself, but understand your limits.
Yes, you want to impress your team by showing how much weight you can pull. But regularly biting off more than you can chew does the opposite: it shows that you’re not reliable. Rushed, sloppy work and missed deadlines don’t inspire much confidence.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself to take on challenges. A week of crunch-time during a push for a client or a late night to beat a deadline is part of being a dedicated PR pro. But those times should be the exception, not the norm. Repeatedly exceeding your personal bandwidth puts you on a fast track to burnout – so don’t do it! In fact, there is so much to say about burnout that we’re dedicating the entire next post in this blog series to it.
For now, I leave you with this: you’re on the way becoming an agency Jedi, young Padawan. But like the path of a true Jedi, it’s not always going to be easy. There will be trials you must overcome…and thankfully, we can offer you advice that’s less cryptic than Yoda’s (and hopefully a fraction as wise).