10 things I learnt in my first month in PR

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 London, UK

So you’ve graduated University, taken on relevant work placements and bossed those round of interviews which now means your heading into the big wide world of PR. I’m not going to sugar coat it, PR really isn’t for the faint-hearted, and your first job can seem mega scary, especially when it means actual responsibility rather than just scouring newspapers and making tea. Having recently endeavored into my first proper PR job where I have the responsibility of working on multiple accounts, I thought I would share with you my 10 tips to ready you for those first slightly grueling two weeks – based on my own experiences

 1)   Don’t expect results straight away
When I first started my PR job, I remember waltzing in thinking it would be easy to get coverage. Oh how naive I was, what you will learn quickly with PR, much like any profession, is that everyone has to start somewhere, and whilst your boss may have pages and pages of contacts, chances are its because they have been doing it a lot longer than you, do not fear. I started my job with 0 contacts and pretty much 0 experience, I wasn’t even sure how to approach a journalist, but you soon learn. The best thing to do is once you’ve got to know the clients you’re working on, send out some tailored emails to the relevant journalists and introduce yourselves to them, once you have built up a bit of a relationship, they will trust you and what your selling in, meaning they may feature your client, it’s all about building on relationships and gaining the Journalists trust, once you have that down its smooth sailing. 

         2)   Listen and learn
As a newbie, and having survived my first two months in the Industry, one of the greatest pieces of advice I can give is to listen to the guidance that is given to you and learn from it, as it will prove super valuable to you in the long term. I remember my boss going through pitches, telling me exactly what to say – but looking back it really helped as I was able to grasp what worked when pitching to Editors.

          3)  Ring rounds may be tedious but they are important
Ring rounds may not be the most thrilling of tasks, you’re literally sat with a phone, a notebook and a long list of contacts. What fun. But the truth is, whilst it may seem slightly tedious, getting on the phone and actually speaking to Journalists is invaluable and lets them know that you are human, and that you are confident to pitch your ideas down the phone. Some journalists can be a little short at first, but remember this is down the fact that they are controlled by tight deadlines and ongoing pressure, it’s not you!

             4)   Go with your gut
I find with PR it’s not all about what you know, or what skills you learnt at University, but more about learning to go with your gut and being bold. Many times I may think a content idea is a pile of crap, only for it to be picked up by multiple journalists. Or perhaps you’re not sure whether to send that balsy yet to the point email to that high powered editor, but chances are she will admire your boldness and in turn put you on her radar of PR's to keep in touch with. Sometimes being brave and learning to just go with it and believe in your work makes you much more prone to success.

          5) Don’t Lie
I can’t stress this point enough. You know the drill. Somethings gone wrong somewhere and you know deep down it was you’re doing but are scared of the consequences, so you ignore the problem only for it to blow up in your face and you are, understandably the bad guy. If you’ve made a mistake or done something wrong its best to own up to it straight away, chances are your boss will see that you’re an honest person, and as a human being him/herself, will understand that we all make mistakes and learn from them. If you try and cover up your mistakes they will only come back and bite you on the ass.

          6)   Bigger is better
It may seem obvious, but I just wanted to stress the importance of targeting the right Publications and editors. In my first few weeks as a PR I was reaching out to many magazines and blogs which are pretty unheard of, I thought I was the bees knees when I got multiple coverage, only to find out that whilst this was ok, these weren’t the publications we were looking to reach. So whatever you’re pitching, always aim for the larger publications as well as the small, as these have a wider circulation and reach.

           7)    Kill em with kindness
In PR, chances are you will have to deal with a very rude editor, most likely a Fashion Editor who likens herself to Anna Wintour (lol please) and as much as you may want to lay into her and tell her that she aint all that, this is not the way to win them round. My motto is 'kill em with kindness', or 'fake it till you make it', if you’re a high volatile character, and find it hard to hold your tongue, then you will need to learn to just put on an act and be as nice and as helpful as you can until they can’t help but want to work with you.

           8) Get on Social Media
If you want to do well in PR, then you have to be on social media, notably Twitter. I swear to god 99% of Journos, editors and bloggers have a twitter account, which A) makes it much easier to reach them and B) means you can see what they are up to and what they are working on. Be as social as you can, follow them, interact with them (but don’t go psycho) and chances are when you next email them they will recognize your profile from the site and trust you a lot more. Also one great tool to use for finding stories is using the hashtag #JournoRequest, it’s basically a really useful hashtag which means us PR's can see what people are working on, and if our clients can help.

9) Always follow up
When you’re sending out multiple pitches a day, and receiving many emails in return, it can be really easy to forget where you are. I’ve had one occasion where I forgot to follow up with a journalist, and missed the opportunity for my client to be featured on a national publication. It wasn’t great, but it helped me realise that you must always make sure you follow up on pitches, as chances are that Journalist didn’t see your email the first time round as they may have been busy, so ALWAYS follow up.

          10)  Be yourself
And my last piece of advice, is to be yourself! No matter if you are pretty whacky; character is everything. No Journo wants a boring, robotic pitch sent their way. Be human and friendly, talk to them as if you would your friends, keep the emails informal – add a kiss at the end if you want! As ultimately you want your pitch to stand out, so the more it’s like you (and your client) the better. 
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