What Advice Would You Give Your 20-Year Old PR Self?


As September looms and a new batch of PR hopefuls embark on their chosen career we take a look back at the advice we would give our eager, but totally clueless, 20-something selves starting out….and as carbon copying and stuffing envelopes is less helpful now we've updated the advice for the digital era.


It sounds as cliché as ‘think outside the box’ or ‘touching base’ but building the brand of “you” will stand you in good stead as you start your career journey. Set your foundations and share your influence through social channels. Your feeds, both image and word, can help validate your knowledge, and eventually your authority in the industry. The more you’re known and recognised - especially with journalists (AKA twitter junkies), the more you’ll be building your organic brand. And subsequently, building your personal profile is also great for your company and new business.



You may think your studying stops as soon as your career starts. Wrong. The PR industry and the world of digital, are forever changing, and you need to evolve at the same speed. So, it’s okay to ask questions, Even the stupid ones. Ultimately, your seniors would prefer you ask for help and work with you to ensure the results come in. Beyond that, speak to industry insiders and clients in order to help to increase your knowledge and keep learning. In addition to asking questions, read, read and read some more. Our Creative Director, Colin Cather, often jokes that he tries to read the internet each night before bed. But it’s true – keeping abreast of the industry and wider topics and themes, will not only generate new ideas but keep you fresh and at the forefront.



It’s okay to make mistakes. There we go, I said it. Phew. However, learn from them. We're all human at the end of the day, so it WILL happen. The important point is how you address it. Best advice: own up to it, immediately, and inform the relevant stakeholders. Put a process in place to limit the likelihood of it happening again. Minimise the impact. Sometimes we need to fail before we can make things a success but own it and then turn a negative into a positive. There will be a mistake you make once in your career lifetime that will feel catastrophic at the time, but you will never forget it and it will help shape you in later professional life.



Sadly, for the vast majority of us, the socially vibrant, bar-filled offices exist only in the worlds of Don Draper and Harvey Spector – however the concept of nurturing great relationships with a collective of key journalists is a biggie. Here’s the why and how…


a.     Network. Build contacts with journalists, clients and industry professionals. Whichever market you operate in, make sure you are making friends; We promise it's a small world and familiar faces will reappear where you least expect them.

b.     Nurture your relationships face-to-face. This will have way more impact than trying to build a rapport from behind a computer screen. Have a few go-to journalists when you need a favour, for example in a PR crisis or when your KPIs are low for the month and you need to up your hits.

c.     A respected name in the media, who has a mutual respect in you, will promote either the agency you work for to new business opportunities or could even recommend you for other exciting roles they hear about.

d.     Don’t forget your colleagues either. Get to know them. What is it that makes them tick? These are the people you will learn from. These are the people who will have your back, and these are the people who will stay late with you when there’s that really important deadline to hit.




And if you haven’t listened to any of the above, just take note of this one: 


Always stay at least one drink behind a client, no matter if it's a social, work, Christmas party or awards do. You’ll thank yourself at the next client meeting. 


Join the conversation – what was your best bit of advice when starting out or if you could start over what would you take note of?

PRKatrina Bishop