We recently hosted the PubClub’s “Behind the Spin: PR Experts Share Their Stories” event, and PR practitioners flooded our South End office to listen and learn from three Boston-area professionals about how they made it to the current milestone in their careers. The panel was moderated by V2 co-founder Jean Serra, and featured panelists Derek Delano, Managing Consultant at Text 100, Jen Signorini, SVP at Racepoint Global and Megan Griffin, VP of external communications at Citizens Bank. As we noshed on tacos, the inspiring panelists shared their perspectives on the ins and outs – and pros and cons – of agency and corporate life, and what they have learned along the way. Here were the biggest takeaways and aha-moments of the night:
PR pros are like the letter “T”
Guests loved the analogy that Derek shared: think of PR practitioners as “T-shaped people.” Across the top of the T, there are skills that everyone possesses: client and media relations, strategy and planning, and social media. There exists one subject area, though, where people find their niche, diving deep into a particular focus area, representing the bottom of the T. With this analogy, Derek acknowledged it may take a little bit of time for PR pros to find their passion, but once they find and harness the power of that passion, they have a skill set on which managers will rely.
Advocate for yourself
It’s no secret that working in PR can be challenging. External and internal duties pop up frequently and learning how to balance a wide workload can be tricky. Entry-level professionals can especially feel that they have to say yes to everything, for fear of disappointing their teammates and managers. Our panelists unanimously advised that the earlier you speak up for yourself, the easier work will be to manage. By letting colleagues know you don’t have the bandwidth to do something or want to try a new task, you’ll avoid inevitable burnout. It boils down to this: If you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?
Find (and be) a mentor
When asked who had the most significant impact on their careers, Derek, Jen and Megan easily recalled people who had provided guidance, advice and encouragement. Each stressed that establishing a mentor relationship is important, because they have been in your shoes and can be your champion. Mentors can also help maneuver work/life balance, navigate tricky work situations and be a trusted confidant for work – and life – challenges. Being a mentor is equally as important, as it establishes leadership experience and a sense of pride in helping and teaching someone else. (For more on the importance of mentors, be sure to check out our recent post on National Mentoring Month).
Navigating the world of PR can be tricky, but with the tips from Derek, Jen and Megan, it just got a little easier! Have any tips that weren’t mentioned that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below!