Our Senior PR Executive Olivia talks about what it’s really like starting out in the PR industry…

In the frantic mad dash between leaving uni and getting on your feet it feels like you’re out of a routine for a long time. Competition for jobs in PR is fierce, so you need enthusiasm in spades and a real passion for what you’re doing. The jobs are few and far between and university tends to paint a blurry picture of what you’ll be doing when you land your first role.

You need enthusiasm in spades and a real passion for what you’re doing.

It’s fair to say I didn’t really know what to expect for a while, each day I’d arrive and my to do list would be completely different to what I’d intended to do (prioritising is key!). One moment I’d be on the phone pitching new products to journalists, the next I’d be packaging up samples for celebrities and writing releases. That’s one of the best aspects, the hustle and bustle keeps you interested and on your toes.

Prioritising is key!

Other than the foundations for writing a release, university rarely teaches the practicalities of the job, or the wide set of conversational skills you need to be good at what you do. You need to be a strong, sharp speaker so you’re not um-ing and ah-ing whilst an awkward silence engulfs the phone line. Nor does uni teach you how to work with clients, time management (when there really aren’t enough hours in the whole week) or how to think outside the box to brainstorm some great ideas.

University rarely teaches the practicalities of the job, how to work with clients, time management (when there really aren’t enough hours in the whole week) or how to think outside the box.

For some it’s a living nightmare, but the call-ups are one of the best aspects… it’s real PR. It’s part and parcel of the job and one thing you should always expect to have to do. If you’re not on the phone actively securing coverage, how will anyone know about you or your client? If you can get someone on the phone for even 20 seconds, it’s better than sending an email which can be deleted at the push of a button.

If you’re not on the phone actively securing coverage, how will anyone know about you or your client?

My one recommendation is to get the experience, it feels like everyone is uttering this same phrase again and again throughout education, but there’s a reason for it. Working in PR is a serious case of “learning on the job”. Be open minded in your first weeks and take up new challenges; you’re still figuring out your talents and where you’ll work best. It’s good to take a back seat and spend time doing your research, reading up on your clients, getting to know everyone and their roles and having some time set aside to explore the products you’ll be pitching on a daily basis.

Working in PR is a serious case of “learning on the job”

Getting to grips with it all can be overwhelming, not a single person I know who’s gone to work in PR has found their early days easy. On the flip side, PR is an incredibly rewarding career. Some days are wonderful; you might secure a TV opportunity, or you nail a handful of press releases. It’s great to have a personal cuttings folder to showcase all the best pieces you’ve set up, just so you can see how much your efforts have paid off. However, to start, I suggest arming yourself with a diary and highlighter, you’re going to need them…

On the flip side, it is an incredibly rewarding career.

Good luck to anyone starting out from the team at Lenny!

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