It’s a bad time to be in the industry. People are losing their jobs left and right, and as a junior employee who’s probably not bringing in new business, how do you keep your job? Regardless of the economic climate, there are a few tips that will not only help you keep your job, but make you indespensible as an employee and make it easier for you to work your way up the corporate ladder.
Be reliable. When I started in the industry, one of my team leaders gave me a piece of advice I’ve given to every junior PR person I’ve worked with. Senior people are juggling multiple projects and clients and are generally extremely busy. When they delegate something to you, they need to be 100% secure in the fact that it will get done. Be reliable, and you’ll become a go-to person with a reputation for getting the job done, and making life easier for those who have the power to promote you.
Have an eagle-eyed attention to detail. It’s not enough to merely get the job done. If you’re given a task that needs miles of corrections, you’re not adding value – in fact, you may be making life more difficult for those who are delegating to you. Pay attention to the details of your contributions as well as others. Proofread, fact check, follow proper formatting guidelines, and make it a rule to submit everything letter perfect. It’s a supervisor’s job to maintain quality control, but the less that needs to be controlled, the better you look. Assume whatever you provide to your superiors will be sent to the client unchecked, and work to acheive that level of polish. It will not only help now, but even more when you’re directly interfacing with clients.
Figure it out. Training is the backbone of any successful PR firm, but certiain things are expected to be part of general education. While performing a media scan may require formal in-house training, there are many things that can be figured out simply through a quick Google search. Ask for guidance, but only after you’ve made a bit of an effort to figure it out for yourself. It will make you a better person.
Become a better writer. Even if you think you’re the best writer in the world, get better. If you’ve got awards for your pithy prose and penetrating poetry, get better. No matter what you do in this industry, you’ll need to be a great writer. If you’re not – get another job. It’s not enough to be good at a certain type of writing – you need to be able to adapt to any style, any voice, any message. It takes practice, but work at getting better at it. It might be a while before you’re writing copy or messaging, but work at it. There’s nothing worse than a PR person who can’t write.
Enjoy the grunt work. Your main job is to make life easier for the people who bring in the clients and keep them happy. This means photocopying, web research, data entry – all of the exceedingly boring crap that nobody wants to do. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Ask for more. The more you understand of the minutiae of the work, the better you’ll be at the bigger stuff – strategy, estimating, etc. Nobody really likes the work, but if you can do it with a smile, you’ll be respected by the people who rely on you.
Be patient. It’s really difficult to work with a junior PR person who thinks they should be managing partner. Sure, you want to move up and make more money, have a better title, and do the more interesting work, but you need to prove yourself first. Show you’re hungry, but don’t be pushy about it.
Bring a big brain. Nobody expects you to come up with the next big idea – and that’s all the more reason that you should be dedicating your spare time to building that. Read, research, interview, understand – be voracious in your quest for knowledge, and apply that big brain to problems that your firm needs to solve. Whether it’s a best practice for something small, a new process for developing media lists that will save time and money, or another supplier that will give better results cheaper, keep bringing those ideas to the table. There is nothing more appreciated in a junior employee than drive and ambition. Keeep it below obnoxious level, though, and never expect more for your trouble than a “Good idea. Thanks.”
Those are my tips for succeeding as a junior PR person. Have any that you’d like to share?