Whether you’re gearing up for your coveted “first job in the real world” or you’ve been working in PR for a bit, we know preparation is the key to success. Well, preparation mixed with perseverance, persistence and patience. Caffeine’s good, too.
Adjectives aside, here are five ways to know you’re not only ready to work in public relations, but you’re willing to step up and blow the doors off the hinges.
1. I will always bring (tons of) value. Adding value to client relationships is obsolete. You must consistently add IMMENSE value to clients. This requires that you study, distill, learn, and have a deep understanding of your client’s niche, industry and team. When you know their business inside and out, you can head off problems in advance of disaster. Anticipate their challenges and offer creative solutions BEFORE problems arise. Don’t have panicky clients coming to you about a problem they heard in a webcast. Today’s business climate demands that you share solid and quantifiable information long before the buzz begins. Hint: This strategy goes well beyond reading trade pubs and dropping in on a LinkedIn group every few weeks. You must commit to lifelong learning, and professional and personal development.
2. I will show up big. The most successful people in business are those who focus on what they can give to others, and not what they can get, get, get. High achievers are comfortable in deflecting attention away from themselves. They have absolute faith that by helping others, abundance will find its way into their lives. Individuals with this mindset aren’t in a hurry to get the deal. Instead, their priority is to build relationships and trust. People who show up big, regardless of the scope of the task or the stature of the other person, are also flexible. They are agile workers who can course correct in the midst of a project. As a result of these attributes, they are the “go-to person” who is irreplaceable. Marketing pro Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, talks about how to make yourself indispensable. Hint: Mediocrity is not for you. Become a person of excellence.
3. I will focus intently. Your ability to pay attention will completely change every all of your professional and personal relationships. You must be willing to fight mental distractions and enter into the deep, “in the moment sphere” of listening. This is a rare attribute in today’s world, but it is so desperately needed. Consider the practice of “silent listening.” It requires us to mentally quiet the unrelenting soundtrack that plays in our heads 24/7. Silent listening demands that we give our undivided attention, free of distractions, judgments and response planning. It calls for us to be fully present. Hint: Be patient as focus requires awareness and discipline. Meditation and yoga can help.
4. I will have a curious mind. One of my favorite quotes is from TV journalist Diane Sawyer: “Wake up curious.” Get out of bed each morning with a newfound sense of excitement of what the day will bring. This childlike trait will serve you well. People and stories are not what they appear to be. Your willingness to ask good questions and truly listen to uncover what lies beneath will bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm for your work and life. Hint: Become an emotional archaeologist. Take your shovel to every client meeting and interaction, and dig away.
5. I will commit to communicating in new ways. These days, PR pros are communicating like project managers. You must be prepared to track the minutiae in assignments. Constant communication with team members has to be tempered with independent thinking skills. Whether you’re a newcomer to public relations or a more experienced PR professional, you must know how to use online spreadsheets, dashboards, graphics and images to track progress, next steps and metrics. Data visualization is essential. Executives don’t have time to distill reams of reports and analytics. That’s what you’re here for. Respect your manager’s time and provide easy-to-view pie charts and graphs that highlight only the most relevant business-related outcomes. They will appreciate your efforts. Hint: Communicators must be adept at this thing called communication.
Speaking of success, I invite you to visit CareerTapped.com. The site provides free educational business content to help college students develop workplace skills and connect with employers before graduation. The result is quality mentoring, internships and jobs. CareerTapped.com offers new ways for high achievers to keep up with PR, communication, marketing and business information.