I landed up in a public relations job by an accident. I was running my weekly publication, which wasn’t doing that well, and my family was fighting a major medical and financial crisis. One day a good soul showed up in the hospital and asked me to drop what I was doing and join a five-star luxury hotel as its PR Manager. The position was the first for the hotel and they had also sacked the PR firm as I was taking over the PR role. I knew nothing about the craft but fortunately was saved because I was assigned a desktop computer, which had all the work done by the earlier PR firm. That desktop taught me how to write press releases, media invites, preparing coverage dossiers etc., and I survived this fiercely competitive and exhilarating industry.
To aid my survival, I started reading anything and everything on public relations, which I also started reposting on a Google group created with an aim of collecting all the resources in one place. This Google group that was started in 2006 in the name of Indian PR Forum, fondly called as IPRF, today is the oldest and largest online community for Indian PR Practitioners. All along, I wished I had someone who could guide me in charting my career path in a more organized manner, not that I regret my choices but a mentor is always helpful. Expanding this thought, I am trying to note down a few points that could be of help for budding practitioners.
- Seek out a mentor: I understand, most senior practitioners are busy people but most also claim in their LinkedIn profile that they are open for mentorship, reach out to them, you never know you may get lucky to have an industry-best as your mentor
- Read, as much as you can. Not only PR related stuff but business, management, marketing, HBR, Economist, one financial daily and stay updated with narratives that are being shaped globally as well as in your country.
- Practice writing – this one is your key combat skill, if you can’t write well and not even willing to improve, leave the profession.
- Get yourself in trouble: ask for the most difficult client to work with, get involved in crisis management, ask for more work, hustle in the beginning as much as you can, it will pay off in the long run.
- Do at least one online program in a week of a minimum of 3 hours, there are many available for free (seek knowledge not certifications) or join LinkedIn learning.
- When in problem, approach your boss along with a solution, think through multiple ways of solving the problem and then go and seek a recommendation for the best approach.
- Network – attend industry events, keep your inhibitions aside and approach people. You don’t have to worry about what they would think about you. Post the event, write to them thanking for their time.
- Whenever you get the opportunity to visit any new city or town, keep a day aside to meet as many journalists you can, you never know when these meetings will be useful
- Know who you are approaching for the story – before approaching any journalist, try to read about them at least for 15 minutes. Common sources are LinkedIn, Twitter handles, also Google their name to read their stories. Whatever information you gather, store it for future use.
- Try to be aware of what’s happening around you but avoid gossip. Be someone who your colleagues can trust. Never brag about anything you know, humble people have many friends and braggers are best avoided.
- Stop saying that you are busy always, it is irritating. You are not doing a favour on anyone by doing your work. Be available to people, keep your work aside for some time and listen to others.
- Invest time in creating your brand, on social networks as well as at your workplace. Decide what you wish to be known for and strive to achieve something in that direction each day.
There are many more tips that can help you shape your career, write to me when you feel stuck, we can discover something together.
Very well captured, Vikram. I would like to add, we are in business of relations never undervalue personal touch, once a while do call media friends and ask about their wellbeing as well. They are humans and would have pain points.
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