Lessons as a First Year PR Professional

A little over a year ago, I was fresh off the boat (plane) from Ohio, bound and determined to make it as a PR professional in San Francisco. I remember looking at my parents right before I stepped away asking, “Am I going to be okay?”

Here I am today with almost a year under my belt as an associate at Fineman PR. Looking back, my hunger for being successful in this industry has grown tremendously. I went to a state college, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, and while my classes taught me the basics of business etiquette and communications, nothing helped me understand the world of public relations better than my work here at the agency.

Being a junior level associate can be overwhelming at times, but I’m learning something new each day. Might I add, at Fineman PR I’m not learning how to make coffee or pick up dry cleaning. I learned during week one that this job meant substantive work. Embracing what I am learning while working hard pays off and seeing the results of the work I’ve done helps to keep my drive in full throttle.

Here is some advice I’ve picked up that other new associates in the field can learn from, too.

Always remember you are representing the agency.
Wherever you go, the impression you give to others you meet is most likely going to be the impression they will form about the agency you represent. When someone asks where you work, be proud to tell them. Act in a manner that would reflect well on the people you work with, your clients and the work you produce.

Read all of your work thoroughly. Then reread it. Once you hover over the “send” button, read it again.
Unfortunately, typos happen. It’s important to get in the habit, quickly, of reading through your work multiple times before sending it around internally or to a contact outside of your company. Aim for perfection and take the time to proof every document and email carefully.

Take advantage of your coworkers’ experience. Be a sponge!
Your coworkers are in their current position because they deserve it. Although work can get hectic and time seems limited, it’s important to take a moment to ask coworkers about their experiences and learn from their skills. Just looking around my office, I see others who once sat in the seat I’m currently in (figuratively and literally) who now have years of experience with countless successful campaigns under their belt. Any bit of advice they can offer is appreciated.

Make a good first impression and always be on the lookout for new business.
Be proactive when it comes to networking and don’t be shy to offer your business card or discuss your agency. You never know when a potential client could be standing in front of you at Starbucks or beside you on the train. Give that initial encounter everything you have so you leave feeling confident in your performance. Make sure the people you meet with know you are exactly who they should be working alongside.

I think Peggy Olsen from Mad Men said it best: “I don’t think anyone wants to be one of a hundred colors in a box.” Peggy has a dedication to her work that I strive to have myself. By making solid contacts with new professionals and proving myself within the agency, I’m even more confident in the road ahead.

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