One of the great things about Public Relations is that it gets you involved with a variety of audiences and organisations, each one having their own specific goals and objectives. This means that the PR professional has to wear a number of different hats, often at the same time, which can make the job very challenging. Generally, the nature of the PR professional’s responsibilities circulate around the requirements of both the client and the media, with the pro often attempting to please both sets of competing demands simultaneously!
This aspect of the job means that although the PR worker is office-based, a large part of their working life takes place outside of this environment; whether at events, client offices, or meetings with the media at mutually convenient locations. As PR professionals we are not static in our role; we are roamers travelling the length and breadth of our cities as we work.
I believe that the nature of our external activities should inform our ongoing professional development. As we are outgoing in what we do, why not harness this experience to further our education and improve the prospects of career progression?
With this in mind, here are five ways a PR pro can access external initiatives that will extend their knowledge base, add to their understanding of their local PR landscape and enhance their communications skills.
- Join a PR organisation: An active Public Relations landscape will feature at least one organisation dedicated to its professionals. Find out about the clubs or groups for PR workers that are established in your area. Joining one or more of these will give you an unequalled opportunity to meet other local communications professionals on a level playing field, enabling you to develop a more rounded picture of what’s going on in the whole sector.
- Attend trade shows and exhibitions: Attending trade shows and industry conferences is part and parcel of the PR professional’s responsibilities in supporting their client. Go beyond this role by visiting other shows that are outside your direct sphere of work. They are great opportunities to gain an insight into other market sectors. The information can be invaluable when pitching for new clients concerned in these areas – you can impress them with the knowledge you have gained about their industry!
- Attend networking events: Networking events for the PR industry are the ideal forum to meet fellow professionals, exchange ideas and find out about developments in the sector. Adding new names to your contact list will expand your reach and your effectiveness. You might find the perfect new addition to your team at such an event, or get a lead on a potential new client, or receive advance notification on any proposed new rules or regulations for your industry.
- Attend your colleagues’ events: When you can make the time, you should attend your colleagues’ events. This will give you exposure into the way your peers work and the way clients other than your own function. If you’re always handling automotive, a trip to a fashion event for your colleague’s retail brand will broaden your experience. It will and enable you to meet different editors and journalists who might be useful to you in future projects. It is also a great way to find out about new methods of doing things, allowing you to bring useful ideas to the table when you next meet your own clients.
- Request an invitation to a PR awards event: Ask for an invitation to a regional PR event, or an international one if taking place in your area. As well as being a great opportunity to meet your fellow professionals and network, you will be able to see the ideas that have worked and the campaigns that have had the most impact. This can inspire you to emulate their success with your own portfolio of clients.
So there you have it – five great ways you can expand your knowledge and experience outside of the office environment. Good luck with your ventures!