Every generation goes through career stages as its members rise to the top in their chosen fields. Mistakes will be made and lessons will be learned. Here are suggestions to help marketers and public relations professionals advance from the earlier stages of their careers to achieve success. The ideas are based on my own experience and what I have gleaned from successful colleagues.
Be patient as you learn about the organization that writes your paycheck. Business goals are more essential than you are as you embark in a role with limited experience. Although patience is not always a virtue in this frenetic social media era, don’t go full speed thinking you have nothing to learn. Rather, direction and clarification are vitally important. Run your ideas by someone more senior in the organization. A company mentor is invaluable, so be open and authentic to that process.
When asked, I always tell new marketing communications professionals to seek out a role in a large firm or business. That will provide you the opportunity to see how the various marketing skillsets fit together. You will learn to effectively integrate video, photography, web, design, copy writing, editing, proofing, brainstorming, advertising in diverse media, social media, market research, media relations, publication management etc. to achieve desired marketing outcomes.
I was fortunate enough to start my career with Becton-Dickinson, a very focused marketing-driven company, and I received a sophisticated introduction to most of the marketing elements. You may end up happy in a small firm, but seeing how the pieces connect and working in a larger creative shop will serve you well.
Relationships are key in any job, but marketing and PR offer a greater mix of creative and technical expertise. The larger firm also offers the chance to learn how to interact with a larger and more diverse group of peers and clients.
Finally, be sure to ask questions and learn about budgets — for your own firm and your firm’s clients. Numbers are essential to strategic marketing and analyzing the best use of funds for the results you seek, and communicating the reasons and actual results, are the key to getting and keeping good clients.
Analyze strengths and hide frustrations
Once on the job, remember to analyze your dependable strengths and look for assignments that match your interests and skills. However, try your hand at additional marketing/PR attributes, and even work on your least favorite skillsets. You may hate writing copy but content management is an essential part of the numerous tasks of your position.
Don’t shun what you may consider busywork in the PR field. Assembling media target lists, drafting press releases, tracking clients in the news and so forth may not be the your most glamorous roles but are important. Be sure to handle these baseline projects professionally and with good humor.
Look for opportunities to attend or assist with client presentations and pitches. These relationships and how to build them are a learned skill and you’ll witness successes and favorable interactions to guide your own approach for the future.
Thinking ahead, save your best work in an e-portfolio or personal website as you move along in your marketing career. It is fun to visibly note your skills growth and you will need the projects for the next job interview. You likely will change roles several times along the way and each new job adds substance to your growing experience pool.
Finally, make an ongoing effort to continue to stay on top of trends in your field and to network with peers outside of your organization. Professional marketing and public relations is a dynamic profession, so stay focused on people and changes.
Glenda LeGendre is principal of Strategic Marketing & Communications and can be reached at [email protected].