In our recent professional education webinar (click here to view the webinar), we brought together PR leaders and academics and a rising public relations professional to find out what newer PR pros need to know to move forward in their careers.

Our panelists – Stefan Pollack, President, The Pollack Group; Martin Waxman, digital communications strategist and instructor; and Ryan Whittle, Communications Manager, Kalypso – identified the following five steps:

  1. Build your foundation. When you enter the public relations profession, strive to become the “leader behind the leader.” While your role may be highly tactical, it is also critical to look deep and understand the connections between your work and your organization’s or client’s business goals.
  2. Focus on personal development. Use your curiosity and absorb everything you can. It is important for newer PR pros to continue learning – and not just about best practices in public relations, but also gaining insights from other industries and disciplines.
  3. Form a supportive network. Start by finding a mentor. Look within the company, reach out to alumni and join industry organizations. Mentorships are beneficial to both parties and can be a critical part of not only learning but increasing networking connections. Consider multiple mentors to grow each aspect of your career. Making connections might seem daunting during the pandemic, but Ryan Whittle advises to start by putting time on the calendar and scheduling touch-base meetings to both learn and show your value.
  4. Understand journalism and journalists. "If your job is to do media relations, then you need to engage with people in media," explains Stefan Pollack. The crux of public relations is building relationships with journalists. This starts with thinking of them as humans first. Understand what they write and their end goal for their content, know their social channels and how they engage. This will give you a stronger start when you initiate with media.
  5. Strategize your career path. To be promoted, you need to build trusted, respected relationships with peers, colleagues and industry professionals. Martin Waxman advises to think two steps ahead on every project. This includes becoming indispensable and coming to the table with ideas that people want to hear. Speak with the confidence that comes from having done your homework. Be proactive whenever you communicate, to let your boss or client know that they are in safe, capable hands.

Growing your public relations career starts with absorbing information, finding mentors and developing the ability to create compelling stories and messaging. Those who move deliberately, learning along the way, will build solid careers from the ground up.

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