Every time someone asks me what I do, my answer cannot be as short and simple as “I work in PR” because most people wouldn’t know what that fully entails. Prior to joining the PR industry, I had no clue either of what it is or its importance with regards to brands and individuals.
“What do you mean PR professionals pitch stories to journalists? So, these journalists don’t actually get out there and search for their stories?”
“What is a press release? How is it not a news article?”
“What does it mean to ‘transform’ your brand’s image?”
The questions just keep on coming.
Strangely enough, I never actually thought I had the right personality to be a public relations consultant. In fact, my first internship at an agency made me dislike the profession to the extent that I ‘d laugh at someone if they told me that they loved PR. A few years later though, I became that person, not only do I praise PR, I actually cannot see myself doing anything else.
So, how did this transition happen? I accepted a job at a Dubai-based PR agency, but this time, I did my homework. I began reading about all things PR, marketing, SEO, brand reputation, thought leadership, etc. and the more I read, the more it piqued my interest. I began excelling at my work and the only way was up. Eventually, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this field.
Now, I am going to share with you my top four tips on how to do so, but before I do, it is very important to understand that having the right personality for PR is THE main key.
I got this tip from a previous client, but never understood how crucial it is until I actually got a mentor myself. It’s important to note that finding the right mentor means having to spend a lot of time networking (unless you are lucky and have someone within your reach). Your mentor should be someone in the field, but not your manager, director, or CEO, or general colleague as they might not be able to give you the advice you need at that particular time. Also, you should be able to share anything and everything without restricting words and feelings and that might be hard if it’s someone you work with. You have to make sure it’s a genuine learning opportunity from both a professional and personal standpoint.
Read, read, read. I cannot reiterate enough how important it is to keep reading. Whether it’s tips, infographics, examples, or just articles from thought leaders in the field, trust me when I say that you will learn at least ONE important skill or fact from each of those.
Let’s say you have an interest in healthcare communication. Make it a habit to skim through the health section of all daily newspapers and read up on the latest developments. Are there any new laws or regulations? Did a competitor launch something new or share a report? Read all about it to stay on top of your game.
Personally, I have never had a problem with time management (shocker, I know) but it’s also because I am a self-admitted control freak and revel in things being organised and executed the right way. Always have a notebook and a pen handy to write things down. Did you pitch today? Make sure to schedule your follow-ups. Did you draft a plan for a client? Make sure all-important dates are pencilled in. In fact, I have this superb rule, which I cannot end my week without. Every Thursday, I sit down, plan for the week ahead, and create my own task lists and deadlines. Usually, I make sure the first two days of the week are the busiest in case there are any last-minute tasks and requests and things need to be pushed off to a later date.
Rima Al Jareh is Senior Account Executive at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. | www.cbpr.me