Five Life Skills Gained Through Public Relations

There’s no denying that my skillset has grown vastly since I began my career at Dittoe PR back in 2015. From starting as an intern to now leading our intern program, I have my all-star team of coworkers to thank for teaching me the ins and outs of public relations. I’ve learned how to be proactive, how to think like a journalist, how to navigate a PR crisis and several other areas of expertise that you can’t really learn in a classroom setting.

 

While there are several things that can be taught, other life skills that come naturally by trade. Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain (and grow) the following life skills through my time working in public relations:

 

Adaptability.

One of the first things I learned when I first started in the PR world is how to be f-l-e-x-i-b-l-e. Being able to adapt to other’s schedules or navigate a change of plans it imperative in our industry. I can recall on several occasions where I’ve sent something to a client for approval, only to be told that the core details have since changed. Being able to adapt quickly will not only help you grow in the fast-paced world of PR, but with our ever-changing lives.

 

Awareness.

I’ve learned how important it is to be aware of what’s going on in the world and around me. This stems back to my high school and college journalism classes, where we were required to take current events quizzes. While they were slightly annoying at the time (sorry Professor Bridge), I’ve realized how vital it is to know what’s going in our world. In our industry, I’m constantly following trends and reading up on current events, which can help with newsjacking efforts for clients.

 

Being up-to-date of current events is a life skill that you can carry throughout your life. It can expand your general knowledge and can help you make more informed decisions. Plus, knowing what’s going on in the world can help your general communication skills when it comes to networking events or chatting with your peers.

 

Confidence.

I had to grow pretty quickly in a small office setting. With a team of less than 20, I’ve been assigned tasks in the past that were new to me. I had to build my confidence and sometimes put on a “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” face. My first in-studio segment? I obviously had never been to one, let alone attended one by myself, but I had to muster up the courage and confidence and act like it was my twentieth time going in-studio with a client. I’ve been faced with several similar instances since and will likely continue to for the rest of my life, but being thrown into these situations has helped me gain the confidence I’d probably never have if I worked in a different office setting.

 

Persistence.

In the world of PR, you have to be persistent. Emails get buried in inboxes and often go unseen by the media. Don’t give up if you haven’t heard back, and don’t be shy following up or tweaking your pitch! Sometimes it can take several follow ups before a reporter agrees to do a story. While this is a more obvious skill for our industry, this is something that has translated into other areas of my life (planning a wedding, hearing back from a consultant, etc.). If you don’t hear from someone right away, don’t give up!

 

Time management.

Deadlines. We all love them. After joining the Dittoe PR team full time, it took me some time to figure out a good time management system. There are several tasks we must complete during the day, but it’s ultimately up to us on how we divvy that time up. Giving yourself and your team internal deadlines and setting expectations on how long a project should take will help when trying to figure out how to manage your 40-hour work week. This goes outside of the office, too – setting goals for yourself, like finishing a book once a month or working out three times a week, will help give you a better understanding of how to manage your time wisely.

 

While I can go on and on about all the life skills I’ve learned while working public relations, I feel like these skills have not only helped me grow professionally, but personally, too. If you’re a student interested in an internship at Dittoe PR (and gaining some of these skills), please send your resume with references, cover letter and three diverse writing samples to vanessa [at] dittoepr.com.

How to Be an Effective Intern

As I intern at Dittoe PR, I learn new things on a daily basis. After all, that’s what an internship is for, isn’t it?  Real life – real time experience. It is where you learn to dive head first into the project or opportunity that you’re given and learn how to deal with it like a professional. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give from my experiences here is to learn from your mistakes, because you’re going to make some, and be of service to the company you work for.  Believe it or not, they depend on you and the work you’re doing for them.

Did I say real time? Yes, yes I did. Time is of the essence in an agency such as Dittoe PR. With every second of my day jam-packed with challenging and stimulating tasks, it took awhile to learn how to cope with the overwhelming sensation of dooming failure that I faced at the end of each day, as I regrettably checked four items off the 10 item long “to-do list.” And I thought finals were stressful!

One of the first things I had to learn was how to prioritize my projects and time. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand how pertinent these projects are in the grand scheme of things and how quickly they actually need to be done. (This is public relations, that’s the nature of the business.

When you’re unsure about something, there is a simple solution: ask someone. Tell someone you’re attempting to prioritize your work, explain what else is on your plate and they will help you out. For me, I used to think it was just on my shoulders and that it was all up to me to figure things out, but in reality everyone is on the same team. The people at Dittoe PR have been more than happy to help me complete each project, and they expect me to ask questions.

I have developed a check list of things to do when I get my project list for the week. (I know what you’re thinking, “another checklist!?”) Yes, another checklist, but a simple and quick one:

  1. Make tentative deadlines for yourself and the individual projects. I will typically make notes on each item, telling me what day I will do that specific thing and what time period of the day; morning, afternoon and evening.
  2. Circle the things that must get done ASAP – and start on those as soon as this check
  3. list is completed. If it is very time sensitive, I will get right to work on that before examining the rest of the sheet.
  4. For conflicting projects (i.e. projects that have the same deadline, and you know one will have to wait for another day) I will, as I mentioned previously, ask the account executive who assigned me that project which one has priority.
  5. Leave yourself a cushion for the items that will come up out of no where. Like I mentioned earlier, this is PR…things will come up that will take priority.

Above all it is important to remember that quality work trumps timely work, every time. This is an insight that I do not hesitate to mention, because it is extremely important and a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. Attention to detail, in this industry is essential. I used to rush through things to get them done on time. When I would do this, my attention to detail suffered and the quality of my work wasn’t where it needed to be. The people here at Dittoe PR depend on what I do, and they expect it to be of the highest quality, just like every other piece of work done here. It is more important to do it well and to the best of your ability, than it is to rush through it and get it done by the “cushioned” deadline.