PR 101: Making Professional Development Work For You

by Jess Petro, Account Manager

So, you graduate college, nail your interviews, and land a great job working in public relations. You might think that your educational journey ends there – you are wrong.

PR pros are constantly looking to improve our skills, whether by scouring the news for pitch hooks, tightening up our language to be more concise, or polishing our public speaking abilities for a high-stakes client meeting. At Issues Management Group, our junior staff meets regularly for professional development trainings, and growth opportunities are baked into our team structure at every level.

Whether you’re just starting out in your PR career or simply trying to avoid stagnation as a seasoned vet, read on for a few helpful tips on how to infuse professional development into your everyday (work) life.

Find a mentor and use them wisely

Finding the right mentor can make or break your career development. Mentors are great for sharing best practices or lessons learned and can be a sounding board for any conflict or difficulties you might be facing during your day. Chances are, your mentor has dealt with the same problems and can provide a creative solution or outsider perspective.

Your mentor does not have to be someone who has decades of experience in your exact area of interest. A mentor can be anyone that you respect and admire and believe can teach you something valuable.

Ask the right questions

There may not be stupid questions, but some questions are smarter than others. Before asking, do some independent research to ensure that your question is specific and tailored to the person you’re asking. Not only does this help you learn something new, but it also demonstrates that you are independent and willing to seek out information before turning to others. It also will probably help you get a more accurate answer, instead of a “here, let me Google that for you.”

Read, read, read

Writing is a huge part of our job. Reading is equally as important. Staying up to date on current events and news items will help you be more strategic in your media outreach. Additionally, any reading, regardless of genre or platform, can expose you to new vocabulary and writing styles that can merge into your work.

Curate your (social) network

Reporters often use social media to communicate with PR pros. They also use their feeds to express areas of interest, trends they’re seeing, connect with their colleagues, and complain about how annoying PR people are.

Following your favorite or most relevant reporters on social media will undoubtedly give you a level of insight that is lost by simply reading their coverage. It also can keep you up to date on current events before they hit the press, giving you an even bigger leg up.

The PR industry is always evolving along with this changing world. As a result, professional development can seem like an intimidating, time consuming task for those trying to pave their career in public relations. However, these small steps can help you improve your craft and be more resourceful.

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With decades of experience in politics, media, government, and public relations, Issues Management Group leverages our expertise to propel and protect established, transitioning, and emerging organizations.

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