I’m sure that anyone who after finishing college got involved with an agency, knows at least one definition of public relations and handles the basic concepts pretty well, but almost certainly doesn’t know all the different activities behind the job and what makes it specific.
Agency work is hard, just like any work you take seriously. In relation to that, don’t get discouraged with comments like: “agency?! You’re going to burn out in the shortest time possible, your job is going to eat you”. If you got the chance to work in an agency, grab it and hold on to it. If public relations really interest you, than an agency is the place you’re going to learn about the job from almost every possible perspective.
How? It’s simple, at the same time you’re going to be a part of different teams who carry out projects linked to cosmetics, sports, corporative public relations, event management, banks, designers and what not.
Along with different projects and brands, there are different groups of people with whom PR employees communicate on a daily basis. On one side you have the client who demands your service. In order to satisfy those demands and successfully carry out the project you need journalists and editors from the media, and surely you’re going to need other participants of the project, from suppliers to celebrities.
PR experts are great at balancing all the previously mentioned things and accomplishing great results for the campaigns they designed. But there are a lot more steps to do before sending the report to a client. The question is how can a beginner, who has a few days of experience and has read about the basics of the profession, contribute to the whole process. It’s crystal clear that you won’t do all this activities from the jump, but just start step by step, learn and gain experience.
A lot is expected from you, but at the same time everyone is aware that you won’t be able to successfully do all of your tasks. But beware, don’t give yourself “loans” and allow having any faults in the basic knowledge that you were meant to overcome before. For example – spelling. Maybe you didn’t yet hone the skill of good writing, but you have to know grammar. The people you work with are your mentors, and most importantly – you learn from them. The time they dedicate you is out of their good will. Use that time to learn new things that will help you in your work one day and not to repeat grammar rules that are taught in high school.
If you really have to, Google it
It’s true that Google has the answer for everything, but use verified sources. Besides, use Google if you aren’t sure about some details, like functions in a program. If you’re doing an internship in an agency and you are doing something in Excel, but you can’t quite remember how to do it. Don’t panic, Google knows how. There’s no point in messaging colleagues with questions about it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t ask them if you don’t understand something. It’s better to ask before you start than do it wrong, but before you ask the question and exchange messages, evaluate if it’s simpler and quicker to do it by yourself (with the help of Google).
The media scene
When it comes to the media, you have to firstly be informed about the media scene. Along the ten titles you know, there are a loooot more media that you haven’t been aware of. They’re all important and you have to know when the issues come out, days when they’re selling, how much in advance do they “close” and the targeted audience. Start with a search and then browse the imprint. Yes, people mentioned in the imprint are real and you’re already going to call them tomorrow and talk about the possibility of a release, and with time about the placing of a topic or interview.
Learn from every task
Some tasks may seem meaningless, but try to learn something from each one of them. Be involved in the process and look for work, ask, show interest. Look for knowledge and experience, everyday in every task, in and outside the office. While you wait for your friends for a coffee, browse through newspapers, read interesting articles about public relations (a lot of websites are specialized in communications, choose the ones you find most interesting and marked them as “Favorites”). Pay attention to the topics they write about, text equipment, authors, follow the trends in the field.
Public relations aren’t just a number of tools/skills you’re going to learn once and always use. Public relations are a field which requires adjustment to the situation, requires a constant following of trends and media as well as learning.
Today, lifelong learning is not uncommon, but the specificity of public relations is that it requires fast adjustments, proactive and carefully thought out interesting activities which will lead the brand to targeted audiences and desired results.