If you don’t already know, public relations is a fast-paced, detail-oriented field. From writing press releases to pitching media to planning client events– it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to jump into the realm of PR head-first. And, if you’re not, you can be. As an upcoming college senior, there are several things I have learned to do religiously that will prepare me for a future in the industry.
Go to bed early (and wake up early).
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “The early bird gets the worm.” Well, that’s true in all aspects of life, but certainly in public relations. Waking up early gives you more time to, well, get sh*t done. But it also eliminates grogginess and lack of motivation as you begin your workday. Give yourself ample time to get out of bed, enjoy your morning brew and do something you love before heading into the office. Getting into the habit of a steady sleep routine is crucial for your overall well-being, but also as you prepare for your future full-time gig (being punctual is a requirement!)
Watch the news.
Not many twenty-somethings watch the news anymore – but if you don’t watch, at least read. Staying up-to-date on current events is crucial in the PR industry. There could be news that your brand or client could benefit from commenting on, or (and I hope this isn’t the case) there could be a crisis occurring that will negatively impact your brand or client. Other 21-year-olds might think it’s weird to get breaking CNN updates and The Daily Skimm (my favorite news source), but I enjoy staying on top of what’s happening in the world (and you just might, too).
Seriously – whenever you get the chance, just write. The more you write, the more you will polish your skills, broaden your internal dictionary and prepare yourself for all those emails you’ll have to pen on a daily basis. Plus, strong writing always looks good in your portfolio. If you’re a college student reading this, I highly recommend The Odyssey, which is a social news platform reaching millions of college-aged students across the country. It’s a great resource for getting your work shared. If you’re interning, offer to write blog posts for the company website.
Get used to proofreading everything. 100 times.
Like I said, PR is heavily detail-oriented. Get in the habit of proofreading things now. Then, proofread again. And, proofread some more. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter.” Grammatical errors in your writing will turn off both employers and editors you’re pitching. It’s not uncommon for even the best writers to find errors after multiple scans. That’s why you should always have someone else proofread your work as well. A second set of eyes can do wonders.
Do something you love.
It’s easy to get sucked into the duties that work entails, and then go home to make dinner, finish your homework and somehow try to squeeze in the gym. Find a hobby that you love and one that will grow with you. Whether it’s yoga, reading or photography, commit yourself every day to something other than work for at least an hour. Your mentality will change, and you’ll notice a decrease in your stress level.
LinkedIn, PRSA, on-campus clubs, guest speakers – enough said. Any opportunity you have to network, take it. I’m thankful for all the connections I have made with my colleagues at Hollywood. You might be tempted to stay reserved – don’t. Break out of your shell, talk to your colleagues and peers. The knowledge that a more experienced professional can give you is invaluable. My advice to you is to engage in a conversation whenever you can, whether you’re grabbing coffee with someone or just passing them by on the way to the copier.
Entering the real world can be scary, but in an industry as exciting as this one, you can (and should) get ready for it by staying committed and enthusiastic. Upcoming grads, what tips do you have for preparing for a career in PR?