Having jumped into the world of PR with zero experience and without a paddle, it’s easy to say that I’ve learned a lot over the past year and a half at SHIFT. As with any job right out of college, there are going to be new experiences and situations that you need to take in stride (or sometimes limp away from) in order to keep your momentum going forward. Finding success in the day-to-day is key to adapting to a new and often overwhelming professional experience.
Having worked with clients from multiple industries and backgrounds, I’ve found three core learnings that help me feel successful each day. I’m sharing them with you in hopes that you can apply them to your professional (or personal) life to keep learning and growing.
Always proof your work – and then re-read it again (and again).
A few months ago, Colgate went out with an advertising campaign for its floss that showed a couple where one individual had something stuck in their teeth. The couple was photoshopped to have some physical anomaly, such as extra fingers or a missing ear, and the copy on each ad said “Not even that [insert anatomical oddity] gets more attention than mouth without care.”
The learning here is that even a small distraction – like something stuck in your teeth – can take away from a much larger picture. The same can be said for mistakes in emails sent to clients or reporters. That one misspelled word could be enough that they dismiss your email without reading the other 99% that you spent time perfectly wording. Spell check works most of the time, but it doesn’t catch everything. Take a second to step back from your computer before hitting the send button – and then apply this proofing method beyond email.
Don’t sweat the small things.
Mistakes happen. They’re a part of life, and humankind wouldn’t be where it is now if it weren’t for a few mistakes along the way. Case in point: the chocolate chip cookie was invented by mistake when Ruth Wakefield substituted chocolate chips for baker’s chocolate, expecting the chips to melt. #funfact!
So here’s the deal: you will send an email to the wrong person. You will miss a deadline, and you know what you will learn? Life goes on. Your company will go on, and so will your client’s. Get up, brush yourself off, but make sure you learn from your mistake. As long as you learn something, the mistake will not be in vain. Another tip: When informing your manager of the situation, always come with a solution, never just the problem.
Highlight your achievements.
One of the hardest parts of the job hunt for me was the interviews. I’m completely comfortable speaking about almost everything except for myself. However, interviews are one of the only places where it’s not only okay to brag a little, it’s expected. This translates into work perfectly!
For example, clients aren’t always aware of what goes on behind the scenes; time spent researching media targets, how many times you followed up with a reporter and then how you nurtured that relationship months on end to secure a great hit.
When the fruits of your labor bloom, it’s a good time to point out some of the background work that you’ve done. From something as simple as “Due to a result of our pitching efforts” to something more specific like “We’re so happy to see that our efforts on this front have resulted in such great coverage,” it’s good to give yourself a pat on the back when you deserve it.
This goes for internal communication as well. If you put extra time and effort into a project that your manager might not know about, it’s okay to tell them that you went above and beyond to get it done well. You might want to stick to regular-bragging over humblebragging though – check out this paper from Harvard Business School!
Navigating the PR world as a newbie can be overwhelming, but keep in mind, day-to-day successes snowball into even larger achievements to celebrate. No matter what role or what business you work in, you can take these tips into account to keep your professional momentum going in the right direction. Sometimes it helps to take a step back, take a walk or grab a cup of coffee – and then jump right back in to #killingit.
Photo source: Buchanan
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