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Many public relations professionals today do not come from the background as many entry level public relations hopefuls do today. A large number of seasoned professionals did not have a PR internship much less a PR degree.
“I started off in TV production then as the co-producer of a ‘pilot’ entitled “Entertainment Tonight”, says Terri Hartman of Harman Media Group. Finding herself in PR, Hartman added, “PR gives me the opportunity to influence people’s lives through my client’s expertise, services, and personalities.”
These professionals have manned a fax machine for hours and didn’t know what a blog was at the beginning of their career much less have a cell phone. Without modern technology they have been trailblazers of the industry practicing in the middle of the morphing of public relations industry into this 24/7/365 force to be reckoned with.
“Everything does not go as planned, but you can’t be afraid to take risks in this industry,” says Tina McCormack Beaty of TMS Strategy. “A PR professional who is afraid to fail and thus doesn’t try, will fail before their start.”
The industry has changed and expanded from the days of fax machines and having to FedEx images to include email, cell phones, bloggers, You Tube and services such as PR Newswire, Business Wire, Cision, and Vocus.
“PR professionals have to be more strategic in order to be successful. The old days of faxing a press release to the local paper are gone. We have to engage more with the media and provide more content for our clients in the form of blogs, articles, comments on blogs and social media promos,” says Becky Boyd of MediaFirstPR.
Even though the industry has evolved there are core elements that remain top of mind regardless. “I continue to take my fact checking very seriously. It’s my name on the contact page,” added Hartman.
While these professionals did not take classes on public relations writing they are industry experts and a wealth of knowledge. They have learned by doing. There are core elements of public relations that have remained key in determining success in the industry. Here are a few tips from seasoned practitioners to help those getting started in the industry,
- Take a few business classes. Yes, your AP class will help you write a press release but that business management class will help you 10 years into your career when you are managing employees.
- Add a few journalism courses in the mix too. Better writing, writing and writing.
- Learn how to make a budget and stick to a budget whether this is for a campaign, an event or a company.
- There are long hours in this field. Know it, understand it and then keep going.
- Sometimes it is less about working for a large global agency and more about the people you work with or the clients you serve.
- Be able navigate Photoshop or other graphics programs.
- The line “other duties as assigned” in your job description could mean ANYTHING.
- Be kind to others and show respect as you never know what positions of power they may hold in years to come.
- Network. Network. Network.
Public Relations practitioners move so fast that sometimes it is easy to forget where we started and the small victories. “The one thing that I would not have predicted that I would love about my PR job is the adrenalin rush of getting a top-tier hit,” says Leah Gabriel Nurick of Gabriel Marketing.
Linzy Roussel Cotaya is a New Orleans based public relations professional with a social media hobby. Her resume includes a mix of ad agency and nonprofit experience. Follow Linzy on twitter, @zzcrawfish, or on www.crawfishtales.com.