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Surviving Your First Job in Public Relations

Published: May 26, 2016       Updated: April 21, 2024

4 min read

Did you see our post last week with advice for making the most of your summer internship? We decided to take our advice to the next level and offer some tips for everyone kicking off their PR careers. Here's what Emily Gose, one of our newest account coordinators, had to say.

Upon graduating from college last year with a degree in public relations, I was confident that my experience and schoolwork had readily prepared me for a promising start in this industry. Well, it took about one week at Idea Grove as a PR intern for me to realize just how much I had left to learn.

Your first job will always have its challenges, and getting accustomed to an agency–even one in your field of study–is no exception. Life in PR is anything but dull; you never know what your day is going to entail or just how deep the water is when you’re diving head first into a new project. Here are six pieces of advice I’ve learned from my first year in this challenging, yet rewarding, industry.

Be a Sponge

I can’t stress enough how important it is to absorb every bit of information around you. You should essentially be a walking sponge, ready and able to immerse yourself in knowledge. Your best resources when starting out are the talented and experienced professionals around you, so take advantage–ask questions, schedule one-on-one meetings, and observe how they handle both success and failure.

Over Communicate

There is no such thing as communicating too much in this industry. With numerous projects in the works at all times, it’s paramount that your team and clients know the status of every single task. After you read a client’s email, let them know. If you need more clarification, ask for it. When you’re worried about a deadline, inform your team. Managers and clients should never have to ask you about the status of a project because you should be communicating with them throughout the entire process. A shared, living task tracker is great way for you and your team to stay updated on projects.

Take Initiative

When you’re just starting out it can feel natural to sit back and wait for tasks to come to you. I have learned that if you want to be involved in something, you must step out of your box and go for it. Don’t afraid to speak up in meetings or brainstorming sessions. How will you ever know the value of an idea until you share it? Even if it feels weird at first, everyone around you will be impressed that you shared your thoughts.

Patience is a Virtue

If you’re anything like me, it can be frustrating when things don’t come together easily the first few times. I’ve come to understand that learning takes time and you must remain patient and allow yourself to grow at your own pace. Knowing a client inside and out doesn’t happen overnight, it happens when you take the time to grow the relationship, foster trust and learn the ins and outs of both the company and its broader industry.

Don’t be Discouraged

There are going to be days when things just don’t go your way. Maybe you’ve crafted the most perfect pitch and you get nothing but crickets. Or, you share the killer idea that came to you in a dream last night, only to be met with reasons why it won’t work. These are the days when it is most important to not give up. The moment that one publication you’ve been trying to reach finally responds, it will all be worth it. Remain optimistic and accept the fact that you will mess up, or have to come up with a better idea, or even have to start all over sometimes. Own your mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Optimism, confidence and a willingness to learn are the PR superpowers every newbie needs! (And coffee, coffee helps.)

Want to kick off your career with Idea Grove? Visit our careers page to view current and future openings. 

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