Network internally, externally and everywhere in between. It doesn’t matter if you are the most talented PR professional, if you have made few connections your career will almost certainly stagnate. Many of the best opportunities – from new jobs to new business launches – often come about from word-of-mouth discovery. Only a solid network can keep you abreast of these hot opportunities.
Don’t be shy about using your contacts. The best in the business always do. Remember the PR world is relationship driven: colleagues in an agency leave and become clients, media personalities may become colleagues. Make sure they always see the best of you.
In search of the perfect job
Gone are the days of the ‘job for life.’ Experience is key, so it’s best see each role as a stepping stone to that ultimate, ideal position. Time and choice are on your side and it’s okay if you make a few mistakes along the way. Learning is all about trial and error. Don’t be a afraid to try things out and take a chance on a role if you see potential in it. If only 20% of a given role is what you would consider as a perfect fit, and it is 20% more than your current work situation, then it may be worth going for it. And if you do, then work hard at it.
Use the “Buffett Formula”
Warren Buffett estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking. PR today is incredibly multifaceted. While it is good to know how everything works, the best results nearly always come from a deep focus. Do whatever it takes to get there — attend conferences, read books, even take classes. Become a true expert in your field and you will always be rewarded.
Once you have nailed that, let the world know. Seek out speaking engagements. Publish your thoughts on LinkedIn Pulse. Contribute to a professional blog or at the very least keep your own blog well stocked with opinion pieces. Finally, seek to raise your social media profile by maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and even networks like Quora and Reddit.
Becoming an expert is one thing, staying one is another. To remain an expert you have to always be relevant, which means you must evolve with the changing times. As the PR marketplace develops, so should you. With the blending of marketing, branding, digital and social advertising into the communications world, standing still will see you left behind.
Even if you think you are on a certain PR career path that does not require new skills and knowledge, you could be missing out on many new opportunities – both jobs and new clients – that would help advance your career in the long run.
This is arguably the most overlooked method of career advancement. Find the person at the very top of your game and, if you can, meet him or her for coffee or lunch at least every other month. A mentor is a great career sounding board and will give you unrivaled insight and guidance throughout your career.
As you grow in your career, don’t forget to give back. Believe it or not, being a mentor will enhance your skills, keep you sharp, help you discover and develop new talent, and build your legacy.
This guest contribution was written by Jamie McLaughlin, President at Capstone Hill Search, a London based executive search and recruitment agency specialized in PR and communications.