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Posted on 07.10.2014

How to Build a Foundation for a Public Relations Career

This past month I started my first PR job! I have held plenty of internships before, as anyone in the industry knows is a necessary first step, but with college graduation came my first full-time public relations job. And while starting a new job is rather overwhelming, it is also an incredible learning experience.

When I first began, I wanted to make a good impression, to soak in everything PR-related, and to master it all right away. Well, it didn't take long for me to recognize these tasks take time. A lot of time. I quickly adjusted my goals and worked to learn something new every day and to How-to-Build-a-Foundation-for-a-Public-Relations-Careerform relationships with my coworkers and superiors, as I realized how much I had to learn from them.

If I were to list all of the things I have learned in the past month, this post would be far too long. So instead, I want to focus specifically on the little details, habits, and skills that I have learned are needed to build a foundation for a public relations career.

We have all been told that the little things are important, and that the little things you do define you as a person. Well, it's true in PR, too. After my first month, I now know how incredibly important details are in the PR world.

Five Skills and Habits Needed to Build a PR Career:

  1. Dress the part. The first day of work I wore a carefully picked out navy work dress. Since I was unsure of the office environment, I dressed on the conservative side. When my boss greeted me, she thanked me for looking nice. I had never been more grateful for an outfit choice than I was in that moment. Dressing well shows your boss, your coworkers and your clients that you respect them. Overdressing is always better than underdressing. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "You can never be overdressed or overeducated."
  1. Speak like a professional. Before I started answering the phones at Lovell, Paula gave me this advice: "You're not a sorority girl anymore, don't talk like one. Girls tend to speak with a high insecure voice when they're unsure of themselves; don't do that." I nodded along, making notes of everything. "This will help you throughout your entire career," she added. And I realized she was right. If you want respect from others, speak confidently.
  1. Learn to assert yourself. This goes hand-in-hand with your tone of voice. While it is sometimes difficult to assert yourself in a new situation, it is essential. If you speak and act assertively, the people around you will take you more seriously. They will know you are excited about your job and that you are both competent and capable. Of course, don't be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of something. Assertiveness is not mutually exclusive from being inexperienced.
  1. Educate yourself on current events. As a world citizen, it is always important to be educated about the news and as a PR professional, it is especially important. If a client is in the news, or a competitor is featured, it is our job to be aware and ready to respond. Additionally, it is essential to be knowledgeable about the world around us, whether or not it involves our clients.
  1. Stay proactive. Often in an entry level position, you will have"down time."  You'll finish the tasks you were assigned and be left with an empty to-do list. But before you check your personal email, walk around the office and ask other staff members if they need help with anything. Often, they will have something for you to do and will be grateful you asked. And in the rare chance they do not need help, you'll be on their radar for the next time they have exciting client work.

For now, I'm still working on mastering these traits, as well as many more. I know I have a lot to learn as I continue down my PR path, but fortunately, I am surrounded by some of the best mentors here at Lovell. Do you have any other skills to add to the list? Share them with us below!

 

Jacqueline Miller is an Administrative Assistant at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Jacqueline’s blogs here. Connect with Jacqueline at Jacqueline@lovell.com, or @JacqMills28

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