What to expect from your first full time PR role – By Rachel Demarco, PR/Marketing Coordinator, InsideOut PR
Whether you’re looking for a job straight out of university or you’ve just landed one, there are a few things you need to know before signing that contract and turning up on day one. If you want to make the best first impression, we’ve got the tips for you.
- Know what you want
So often people start a degree in PR thinking it is all glitz and glamour, cocktails and parties. If you’re reading this then I hope you’ve figured out that this is NOT the case – if not, please read our last blog ‘Stubborn myths about the PR industry and companies, busted’. If you start an internship or role and realise PR isn’t for you, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s better to find what’s right for you than waste an employer’s time with less than enthusiastic work.
- Do your research
If you haven’t yet secured a job, research is your best friend. If there’s a current campaign that you really love – see who’s behind it, send them an email and tell them why! I’m sure you love to be told your work is appreciated so why not show some appreciation to a prospective employer?
If you have secured an interview then well done, but now how do you set yourself apart from the countless other applicants? RESEARCH. Look at the company’s past clients and campaigns, research what they’re working on at the moment and don’t be afraid to mention it in your interview – “I saw you’re working on XYZ right now” or “I love the angle you used to get coverage in XYZ.” This shows genuine interest in the company and excitement of the opportunity to work with their clients.
Same goes for when you’ve secured a job, the research never stops. To avoid becoming overwhelmed on your first day (because let’s face it, there’s already enough ‘new job’ requirements to make your brain explode) it is a great idea to ask your employer to send through an overview of current campaigns beforehand. Even if you don’t fully understand a campaign, it shows initiative and willingness to jump right in. This will make the transition of joining campaigns mid-way a little smoother.
- Allow extra time for travel
Regardless of whether you’ve just started at a new job or have progressed from an intern to a full-time role, you should always allow extra time for travel. Easily the best impression you can make is to turn up to work early or on time – this shows enthusiasm towards your role and an eagerness to start the day settled and focused.
While accidents happen and traffic is unpredictable, allow time for these things even if it means arriving at work 45 minutes early (which I’ve been known to do on multiple occasions). Use this extra time to catch up on the news for your sector, start sorting your emails, set a to-do list for the day, or even meditate and prepare your mind for a productive day. No one likes to start their day feeling flustered and rushed.
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone
While email can be a quick and efficient form of communication, when first trying to build a rapport with a client or journalist it is best to pick up the phone. After sending a journalist your initial pitch/release, follow up with a quick call introducing yourself and chatting about the pitch/release a bit more. Not only does it show your willingness to follow through if you don’t receive a response, but it also helps you get more feedback for your client on how the media are responding to your pitch/release – without sounding like you’re harassing them via email.
Quick tip: Keep calling until they pickup, try not to leave a voicemail – how often to do listen to your voicemails and actually RETURN the call, unless it’s urgent?
With a client it’s also important to get on the phone every now and then. While back and forth emailing is great to keep all information and decisions in written form, it can sometimes be a waste of time. A 5-minute call to clarify an issue or question can save you dozens of emails and also get you on the same page as your client. It shows you only want the best for their brand and aren’t wasting their money and time.
- Don’t take anything personal
As a student you are constantly asking for feedback on your work because you want the best results in your degree. This desire for constructive criticism shouldn’t end when you join the workforce. Every company will do things slightly different, so you have to be willing to adapt to their preferences. If you do a task the only way you know or have been taught, don’t take it personally when your superior asks you to do it again or gives you a pointer for next time. You haven’t done it wrong, just not to their preference. Your employer wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t want you to grow and learn, so take advantage of the feedback and opportunities they are giving you to improve and succeed.
This is the same in relation to media contacts. If a journalist doesn’t like your pitch or doesn’t want to run your story, they aren’t saying they don’t like you. They may have recently covered a similar story, or their colleague is working on something similar at that time. Always try to ask for feedback on why it didn’t make the cut for them in order to better your relationship for future needs.
Don’t let these tips scare you, working in PR is incredibly rewarding – especially when your newly formed media relationship helps your client secure a great feature! Not to mention future features. I have been in my role for 4 months now and these tips have helped me adjust to the full-time environment effortlessly.