Just about a month has gone by since I started as an Account Coordinator here at Matter Communications – a month packed to the brim with new experiences and new challenges. As a recent grad just starting her first “real-world” job, I know exactly how awkward and full of butterflies the beginning can be. But I have also learned a few useful tips to help ease the transition, overcome the anxiety and grow as a public relations professional. Heed this advice and I promise that you will fit right in before you know it.
1) Speak up
Your first grade teacher wasn’t kidding when she said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’m sure that your colleagues would rather clarify something for you now than clean up an avoidable mistake after the fact. Take advantage of their knowledge about PR and the agency to further your own. And don’t ever hesitate to suggest an idea to your team; sometimes a fresh perspective is exactly what they need. They will certainly appreciate your effort to hit the ground running, too.
2) Get to know the lingo
If you have previously interned at a PR agency, you might already know what it means to leverage an idea, close the loop on any outstanding opps and display key learnings in a prezo. But if any of this PR jargon makes you raise an eyebrow, don’t fret – it will all make sense soon. (“Prezo” is slang for a PowerPoint presentation. See how easy it is?)
3) Know your client(s) inside & out
To put it simply, your job is to represent your client. How can you expect to adequately do so if you don’t fully understand what they do? Researching your client is vital during the first few weeks of your job. Listen closely. Study their website and social channels. Read everything you can get your hands on, especially media coverage in recent years. Identify their competitors and read about them, too. And, of course, ask questions! The more you know from the get-go, the better equipped you will be to get results down the road.
3a) Read your target publications
Sorry, ladies – it’s time to ditch Cosmo and pick up a copy of a pub (there’s some more lingo for ya!) that is relevant to your client’s industry. Make it a point to scan the headlines each morning to better understand the topics covered and the journalists’ beats. You will inevitably be pitching these outlets, so you should familiarize yourself with them as soon as possible. And, hey – it’s an easy way to immerse yourself in your client’s industry!
4) Organize your email
I may be slightly obsessed when it comes to staying organized, but regularly cleaning out your inbox is a necessary habit if you want to keep your head above water. Managing email sometimes feels like a task in itself, but Microsoft Outlook offers some handy features beyond those beloved file folders that will seriously simplify your life. The color coding capability, for example, has become a pretty good friend of mine. Subscribed to a bunch of e-newsletters that seem to pop up every five minutes? You can avoid the distraction altogether by creating a rule to automatically send them to a specific folder for later reading. Take advantage of the task list by slapping a red flag on important emails and specifying its due date. A clean inbox = a clean mind!
You’re not going to be perfect on your first day. Or the second, or the third, or the 100th. All that matters is that you learn and improve with time. Have patience. Be confident. And just breathe.
…Now show ‘em what you’ve got.