A few days ago I passed my six-month anniversary at Voxus PR. It took me a while to realize this, because it feels like no more than a week or two since I first walked in the doors, smiling and shaking hands with everyone and trying not to show how terrified I was. I’m incredibly grateful to all of my co-workers and supervisors for their guidance, support and willingness to take a chance on a 23-year-old who sent them a résume when they weren’t actually hiring. Here, in no particular order, are six of the most important things I’ve learned in my first half-year of gainful PR employment.
I said all of these items were equal, but this one is probably more equal than the others. Too often I see less-experienced employees avoid asking questions because they think it will make them seem unprepared. If you have questions about the work you’ve been assigned, almost every boss will prefer that you ask them. It’s better that you clarify things first rather than try to figure it out on your own, mess up, and make more work for everyone else to fix things. Your bosses understand. They’d rather spend the 10 extra minutes now than two hours down the road. Just remember the answer for next time.
If you need help, ask for it
This one goes hand-in-hand with Number 1. No one expects you to handle everything on your own. Managers can’t manage if they don’t have good information from their people. If you’re slammed with projects for one client and another program director asks if you can finish that coverage report by 2 PM, be honest with them. Learning to prioritize and organize your workload is just as important as doing the actual work.
People have short attention spans
This one shouldn’t be a surprise. People are busy, and getting an email usually means more work for them. Most folks will get about three lines in and, if they haven’t seen the point yet, they’re done and on to the next thing. This goes for clients as well as journalists. Tell them upfront what you’re asking them and why they should care about it. Fit that in three lines and maybe you’ll get them to read four.
To-Do lists are amazing
At some point in my career I will have developed such perfect memory that I can remember every action item on my plate and keep them mentally ranked in order of priority. Until I develop this superhuman level of mental discipline, I’ll keep making to-do lists. I‘ve tried a couple of digital notepads, but I still prefer old-school pen and paper, with red ink and lots of little exclamation points to show priority items.
Each conference call bridge program is unique
Some of them are good, some of them are bad, none of them are perfect and all of them are different. I now know more than I ever wanted to know about the quirks of five different conference bridge programs. Learn the ins and outs of your preferred choice and make sure to have a backup ready in case technical issue happen – because they will happen and it will probably be at the worst possible time.
Fake it until you make it
I don’t mean that you should pretend to have knowledge or skills that you don’t actually have. But even if you feel overwhelmed, intimidated or out of your league when tackling a new project or an unfamiliar assignment, just take a breath, remember that everyone else feels that way sometimes, and tell yourself that you can handle it. Say it enough times and you’ll start believing it.