Mentoring PR’s Generation-Next Can Produce Superstars!

kreeIn my six plus years in the PR “world” a number of friends have shared their Devil Wears Prada like horror stories about the competitive nature of this industry among their colleagues and managers. For these friends, sharing media contacts is taboo, asking questions of your boss/team lead to make sure you understand an assignment is blasphemy and supporting the success of your team mates is unheard of. With that kind of thought process who would want to build their career in this field?

For me, this industry has been the polar opposite experience. I have been lucky enough to have to find a love for public relations in large part to my mentors and managers who took joy in my successes and supported my career “wins” as if they were their own.

Following my graduation from college I knew I wanted to make my way in the communications field. I never thought about public relations but after literally joking and laughing my way through an interview I was hired by a mid-size agency in New York City. On my first day I was excited to meet the people I would work with and was eager to LEARN!

On day one I met Anne, who at the time was a mid-level public relations executive, who took me under her wing and was truly invested in teaching me the “business.” I hung on every word, worked to make sure I was achieving the standard of excellence she expected and in the end had a wealth of knowledge that bought me into my next position in a new company. I still turn to Anne today with all my public and media relations questions today – be it “can you refer to me a reporter?” or “how would you pitch this?” It’s a relationship that I value and treasure as we each make our way up the corporate ladder (she’s now an MD at her agency!)

Anne taught me the importance of supporting your team members in their career because their success is your success. I kept this in mind when taking on my first new hire, a recent graduate of Indiana University with an impressive resume and a slew of internships. When Kim joined my team I was truly invested in her success – something she had not previously experienced. I wanted nothing more than for her to be the BEST “PR” girl she could be. Instead of criticizing or talking down, I put emphasis on the areas she was outstanding in and gave constructive feedback on areas in which she could improve. Today Kim is amazingly successful and truly happy in her work.

Having a mentor who is truly invested in your career and achievements can make all the difference in the success you have in the public relations field. If PR is going to be a truly successful marketing service, senior executives must take the time to groom the next generation. PR “newbies” WANT to learn – believe me I’ve been there! – managers should take this drive as the opportunity to bring out the next great PR superstar!

When your employees succeed, you succeed. As a “manager” I know this first hand and it has made MY career that much more rewarding.

Kristen Massaro is the Director of Social Media, Communications for STC Associates in New York City. Having spent six years in the communications and PR world, Kristen has a passion for non-profit public relations and is currently in the process of starting her own non-profit, the Fearless Heart Fund, which was inspired by her 2 year old goddaughter who received a heart transplant in 2008. A born and raised NYer, Kristen has a love for roller coasters, the New York Yankees and her three year old dog, Alfie.

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  • Great story, Kristen! I really hope that our generation shares the wealth and works to improve all aspects of our industry. Very recently, I was assigned to work on a project with an incredibly talented and incredibly experienced team member. And at first it scared me because he could get results that I can only dream of at this point. But then I got over it and realized he was there to help. All I had to do was ask, and we were sharing contacts and pitches and all sorts of things. And because of that, we landed things together that had never been imagined for this client. So yay teamwork! But newbies have to remember to ask for help, and not just cower.

  • Laney

    Enjoyed your post! I think some experienced (not going to refer to them as older) PR generations could really benefit from a reminder that part of managing may be mentoring.

    One of the toughest things for me, has been finding a true mentor, that has been willing to take me under their wing and help me grow. I think it is sometimes tough for a manager during his or her own busy work day to realize that someone like me could benefit from an extra 5 min conversation about the document I am working on.

    As someone who is always open to learning, I've started thinking that I am going to have to track down someone I want to emulate and practically beg them to be my mentor. Any takers?

  • Anne Donohoe

    I'm so proud! My little grasshopper is all grown up! In all honesty – I was just paying it forward. I was lucky enough to count some AMAZING practitioners among my mentors – – including Ann Subveri of Utopia Communications and Henry Feintuch of Feintuch Communications – both incredible executives and teachers with thriving practices of their own. Not only did they teach me the ins and outs of PR – but they taught me how to be a well-rounded business executive, how to work in an office environment and how to grow a business…three things that I think often get lost in the mentorship process.

    Go Kristen!

  • KreeBeau

    I agree! Another mentor once told me I don't mind if you ask as many questions as you want the first time around – but if I chose to go off do my own thing, and then got it wrong cause I never asked they would be upset. I think it is a great rule of thumb!

  • Cadence Turpin

    This was very encouraging to read at a PR student. I have a few friends in their 20's who are currently out in the PR work force and they have loved their experience. Having a mentor in this industry is important, because although it is consistently changing its channels/methods, we can still learn from the successes and failures of the PR professionals before us. Your example of the support you received from your co-workers is another essential element for a company's success with crisis communications. If employees are supportive of each other, they tend to share a similar language and consequently form a better crisis management team (CMT). This support system increases both the confidence and motivation in a PR professional, two ingredients to success.

  • meganclairfemrite

    This is a very interesting article. I'm curious as to what you and other members of the PRBC/other commenters think one who is tangentially affiliated with, but wants to have a career in PR, should do in order to make connections. (I currently work in finance, but have previous PR experience in college.) Should you join professional organizations? Find a mentor in the field? Take as many classes/seminars as possible?

  • I actually came into PR from a completely unrelated field but specialized in my prior industry's sector so all that knowledge came in very handy – the clients trusted that when I said I 'got something' about their business that I was being honest and not just getting enough to put it down on paper.

    I'm an advocate of the 2 ears, 1 mouth theory, particularly in the era of blogs/twitter. Listen, read, and interact. Find people in your geographic area that are in the sector/specialty you want to be in and see what tweetups/conferences they're attending — it's likely the places you should be as well.

  • meganclairfemrite

    Thank you for the advice!

  • meganclairfemrite

    This is a very interesting article. I'm curious as to what you and other members of the PRBC/other commenters think one who is tangentially affiliated with, but wants to have a career in PR, should do in order to make connections. (I currently work in finance, but have previous PR experience in college.) Should you join professional organizations? Find a mentor in the field? Take as many classes/seminars as possible?

  • I actually came into PR from a completely unrelated field but specialized in my prior industry's sector so all that knowledge came in very handy – the clients trusted that when I said I 'got something' about their business that I was being honest and not just getting enough to put it down on paper.

    I'm an advocate of the 2 ears, 1 mouth theory, particularly in the era of blogs/twitter. Listen, read, and interact. Find people in your geographic area that are in the sector/specialty you want to be in and see what tweetups/conferences they're attending — it's likely the places you should be as well.

  • meganclairfemrite

    Thank you for the advice!

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  • Worob

    We have similar thoughts 🙂
    “Why Having Mentors is Key to PR Success” http://bit.ly/6oah44