‘Ask questions’ and other tips for junior PR pros

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This is an article by Kay Seago, public relations executive at Coast Communications.

Life as a junior PR practitioner can be quite daunting at times.

From answering client calls and queries to attending your first marketing meeting, it can all seem a bit overwhelming.

But the good thing is that you’re not alone. Everyone has to start somewhere, and luckily for you, these five quick tips should help make your experience a lot less painful…

1) Don’t get lost in the admin

As most junior practitioners know, it’s more than likely that you’ll start your PR life dealing with admin, and lots of it! Whether it be press cuttings, press reports or simply filing client details, every junior PR will grow to be the best of friends with paperwork. The key is to not bury yourself in it.

I’ve come to realise that it’s actually incredibly easy to get lost in the admin. The challenge is creating a balance between the day-to-day jobs and the actual nitty gritty of public relations.

I’ve found that creating time slots really helps. By dedicating a certain number of hours to admin tasks, you’ll find that you’re freeing up time to get stuck in. Use this time to get a feel for how the company works and grow accustomed to each client.

2) Do your research

If, like me, you work in a PR agency, you’ll have multiple clients to attend to. No two clients are the same, and so their PR goals can differ significantly.

As a result, it’s important to get to know each client’s needs. Spend some time researching the client. What profession are they in? When did they start up? Is it a family company? Etc.

Once you’re familiar with each client you’ll begin to understand their needs and feel more confident when it comes to engaging with them.

3) Interact with clients

Clients want to feel assured that their PR company understands their needs and can put their message out confidently. Admittedly, it can be quite daunting when speaking with clients for the first time but try to stop the nerves from overwhelming you.

Instead of seeing client meetings as a trip to the lion’s den, see it as a chance to gain experience.

If you find it difficult to contribute to the conversation, look at the agenda beforehand and make a note of any points that you might be able to expand on. Ask your boss to have a look over your ideas and see if they can make any improvements.

4) Take initiative

There might be times where you’re tasked with a job that would normally fall to an account manager – this is your time to shine.

Recently, I found myself leading my first marketing meeting. The situation arose when the account manager had to cancel the meeting at the last minute but the client didn’t want to rearrange. As a result, I offered to step in and lead the meeting myself.

I quickly prepared for the meeting by looking at the agenda, making notes of how PR activity will help certain issues, and reminded myself of the client account.

It’s challenges like this where you can really build experience. Just remember – if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

5) Ask questions

It’s drilled into us from a young age, but I think this piece of advice is really underrated.

I always thought that asking questions made you appear incompetent, but it’s actually the complete opposite.

Any manager will tell you that it’s a lot better to ask a few questions and complete the job correctly the first time rather than steaming ahead and making mistakes.

Fortunately, my bosses have the time to go through things with me, answering any questions that I might have. However, if you find that your bosses don’t have the time, ask a colleague – or better yet, take the initiative and research.

Starting out in PR can be challenging and overwhelming, but once you’ve mastered the balance, it can be incredibly rewarding. PR is a fast-moving industry so keep educating yourself and as your confidence grows so will your prospects. Treat every experience as a learning curve: you might be a junior now but you could be a senior next year.