‘Tis the season for inspiration from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, advice from elders, and wisdom from commencement speakers telling grads that the world is their oyster. It has been nearly a decade and a half since the completion of my undergraduate education, but the tips I’m about to share still ring true even now. Thinking back, I recall some of the key phrases my former managers and mentors loved to use. “It’s all in the details.” “We’re not the post office, our goal is to deliver more than what is expected everyday.” “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
- Check your ego.
No matter how many years you’ve spent in school or how many hours clocked at an internship, your ego is not welcome. Confidence is a wonderful thing to have, but nobody enjoys a know-it-all. Your time should be spent observing, listening, and learning. By all means, speak up, but only after you’ve spent a bit of time listening first.
- Come in early, stay late.
Clock-watching might be fine if you have no intention of learning or staying on the job. Your focus should be making the most of your time, not trying to determine when it’s almost up. Focus on the tasks, the big picture, and taking your time to do whatever you can while you’re there. Not only does it show you care, but it shows that you’re investing your time and effort to do what it takes to get a job done, not collect a paycheck or do the bare minimum.
- Never assume.
I once made the mistake of assuming that a client would be happy with the creative my boss had approved and I allowed it to go to print without confirmation from the client. As a manager, I’ve seen team members make other sorts of incorrect assumptions out of brashness, fear of asking, or just laziness. So as you start your career, be sure to do what you can to get confirmation before you end up spending 20 minutes in a restroom stall trying to recover after being yelled at by your boss.
- Read. Read. Read.
Read newspapers. Read magazines. Read Medium. Read advertising. Read it all up! You’ll absorb so much information, learn about trending topics, and maybe even contribute to the discussion at the next team or client meeting.
- Be genuine.
In Public Relations there’s a sense that we’re working in a world of facades. That might be true in some cases as we’re usually trying to divert attention in a positive light, however, no one will trust you unless you’re actually being genuine. Your client, team, audience, or media contacts will all have a greater respect for you if you’re a real person, not a relentless salesperson, a climber out to reach the next rung, or one to throw someone else under the bus. It isn’t all about your needs alone, because PR is an eco-system that involves so much more than a pitch or press release.
There’s so much more that one can do starting out beyond the five tips mentioned here, like have patience, problem solve, be resourceful, and stay level-headed. However, just by taking the five tips here you’re already doing one of the most important things possible and that’s showing you care about the work you’re doing. So go forth and do it!
Godspeed and good luck to you!