Five Starter Tips to Shine in PR

This guy clearly knows what he’s doing.

I wish I had an awesome Hurricane Sandy story to blog about like the rest of online contributors but unfortunately/fortunately, I live in Chicago and was at work yesterday. This is how I managed to check all my go-to digital haunts and stumble on yet another PR advice column, this time by Matt Harrington, Global COO of my previous employer.

My friend Alison and I always complain that most new contributions to the genre never provide any concrete next steps on how to tackle the complicated and stressful career that is PR. Instead, they brush on superficial, over-generalized approaches that could be applied to any industry. This is why I decided to take a stab at my own draft by pulling from my two-years of PR agency experience and compiling five tips for anyone starting out in the communications field. Some of these were handed down to me by supervisors and others I learned from trial and error but they got me to where I am today so maybe they’ll work for you.

  1. Manage expectations: This nugget comes from my very first boss and has probably been the most precious. What it boils down to is that as long as you’re regularly checking in with your supervisor in person, through email or on the phone by updating them on your progress and being honest about what deadlines you can meet, you will never let anyone down. I would recommend summary emails at the end of each day or touch bases at the half way point of a project.
  2. Don’t be afraid to follow up: You want to trust that supervisors and clients will meet the deadlines you set for providing feedback but know that they’re extremely busy and your emails can get lost in the shuffle. Following up is just helping push important messages to the top.
  3. Format emails: This means spell check, bullet, bold and italicize. It’s more than likely that you will never meet all of the people you work with on a daily basis, which means emails are your only way to make an impression so make it a good one! Also, with forwarding, you never know where an email can end up. If it lands in the inbox of the CEO, you better hope you put your best foot forward.
  4. Provide recommendations/anticipate questions: If you’re starting out, you will be doing research, giving you a leg up on your team since you will have more knowledge related to a particular topic. This means you are now the expert and people will look to you to for answers. Use this opportunity to provide a recommendation along with air-tight reasoning. You might be surprised at how smart you’ll sound and how much they’ll trust you.
  5. Befriend the admin: In short, they know everything. Whether it’s questions on billing, some random technical shortcut or the number to the nearest Kinkos, they know it. And if they like you, they will go out of their way to make you shine. Essentially, they save lives.

I brainstormed quite a few more tips but these seemed like a good place to start. What are your thoughts? Anything important that I missed?

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