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At any stage of our PR careers, most of us have our eye on the next rung of the hierarchal ladder. Chasing after the next promotion isn’t the only reason we give everything we have to our clients, but let’s be honest, we didn’t jump into the sandbox to avoid building a castle. When I entered the PR world, I thought the clearest path to an upwardly mobile career was to raise my hand for every new project, taking on as much as I could. Taking this approach puts you in the position to be the one to secure that big placement, execute on a massive client program or contribute to a new business win. Of course all of these things make us tick, make us challenge ourselves and they’re viewed pretty positively by our bosses. Sounds like a pretty good plan, right?
For the most part, it is. Being perceived as a reliable go-getter that will do whatever it takes to get the job done can’t be a bad thing and it’s a trait in PR pros that I truly respect. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t separate you from the pack as much as you think. Anybody can raise their hand (not that everybody does), there are only so many projects to go around and to raise your hand, you need to wait for somebody to ask for your help. The other option is being a go-getter that works smart. Working smart means taking a big step back to identify the various ways you can not only benefit your career, but also your employer and/or your clients. Here are a couple ways that you can stand out from the crowd instead of just raising your hand.
Be Known for Something
When your boss says, “We need to get so and so’s insight before we do anything” or “We need to have so and so work on this project to be successful,” that’s being known for something. PR fundamentals aside, there are several way to be an expert on something. For example, you can be an industry/discipline expert (consumer, B2B, technology, non-profit, internal communications and digital communications), which means you have a deep understanding of the competitors and players in the space, media outlets that are applicable and of course, relationships with editors or reporters that you can leverage. To name a few others, you could be a go-to person for things like monitoring tools, graphic and presentation development, writing, etc. Over the past several years, the sexy thing to be known for is your prowess in social media. I hope you’ve paid a little attention to that one.
Create Something New
Every year, I tell myself that I’m going to develop one new program or project. This year I started my own little Posterous. In the past I’ve created more agency-centric programs. The benefit of creating something on your own besides getting credit for doing it in the first place is that you will likely manage it moving forward, and as it grows, so will your management opportunities. The important thing is that you don’t bring something to the table just to do it, make sure that when you do that you present a strong business case for doing it. Creating something new for your company is an indicator that you’re contributing to the growth of the company and an active participant in its long-term strategy.
Refine a Program
We’ve all had to deal with the frustration of an inefficient or broken program. It could be a clip report process or the way research is done for a new project or the way your company hires interns. No program is too big or small to fix. These problem programs slow you down, give you a headache and ultimately, keep you from pursuing opportunities that could benefit your employer or client. Identify the issue and figure out a solution that makes the program more efficient and productive.
Bring in Business
Duh, right? Besides doing stellar work that keeps clients around, nothing will make you stand out more than increasing revenue. Find ways to bring in new business or organically grow the relationship that you already have with existing business partners.
I’ll cut it off there since I’m sure Cog will call me long-winded again if I go any longer. What have you done in your career to stand out?
Alex’s postings on this site are his own and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of GolinHarris or those of GH clients.
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