Skills every developing PR professional needs to have

How to get a job in PR

photo credit: DoktorSpin

I’ve been working in communications-type roles for a decade. I cut my professional teeth in the pharmaceutical industry before taking a position at a global communications agency. I’d had several years of experience by that point, but when I started in agency I felt like I was starting anew again; fresh-faced and straight out of school.

I moved up quickly and had some great successes early on in my agency career. One of the reasons was because I was passionate and dedicated. I also had a great mentor and colleagues. But the key component to my long-term success was the focus I put on the skills below.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring a wide variety of developing professionals (I don’t say young because these days you’re never too old to make a change in your career path). What I’ve found is that the ones who were the most successful shared similar traits, regardless of the industry they worked in. Here are my top tips for becoming a rock star in your PR profession:

Be confident. Having confidence instills confidence in those around you. In my opinion it is a foundational trait and one that a good manager and mentor will help you continue to cultivate. It’s a trait that always develops and it’s natural to see its level fluctuate each time you move forward in your career or tackle new challenges.

Be a sponge. This is especially key during the first few years of your career. Learn everything you possibly can and take lots of notes in meetings. Part of being a sponge is being inquisitive and asking questions. For example, in my first agency weekly team meeting (where we would talk about the current client projects and share key learnings) I took lots of notes. I then set up quick meetings with each of the team leaders in the office to talk about their clients and the type of work that we did for them. I worked solely on healthcare clients at the time so these meetings allowed me to quickly get up to speed on the different types of work being done at the agency and even gave me a few ideas to take back to my client teams.

Be a resource. Offer up ideas when they come to you and provide your perspective in meetings. Read about a great integrated social media campaign – could it be used for a client? Share it! Have you been reading about an issue that could eventually apply to one of your clients? Talk to your team leader and offer to draft a note to the client.

Be able to take feedback. Part of growing is taking constructive criticism and applying it to the next task or learning from mistakes. In fact, it’s always been my firm belief that the latter is the best way to learn. What managers are looking for in their junior employees is growth. Demonstrating it and not repeating past mistakes also helps support the next important trait – reliability.

Be reliable. This is where the term “under promise and over deliver” is often used. If you’re given a task to complete then make sure that everyone is clear on the deadline. If you can’t meet or exceed the timeline, then make sure you’re managing expectations early on so that you’re not leaving the rest of your team in the lurch. Even if you’re on track with a project, consider providing your client or team leader with a quick update. That way you can check in and ask questions, if needed. It might also allow you to identify potential opportunities that may not have been considered at the beginning of the project. Look at that: you’re being a resource! 

Be the person that raises his or her hand. Hard workers are rewarded; it’s as simple as that. If your workload is light and someone else is struggling, ask if you can help them out and take on some of the work. If you’re in a meeting and there’s a special project, offer your assistance. But remember not to take on so much that it will negatively affect your ability to deliver.

Those are some of the key attributes that I’ve seen demonstrated in successful developing professionals. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you agree or even disagree. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Before I end this post, I would be remiss if I didn’t call out another skill that all professionals need to have, regardless of where they’re at in their career. Know how to network. I have always been amazed by the power of networking – especially now that I’m looking for a new role. In my opinion, getting yourself out there and talking to people is the single biggest way to advance your career. Searching for positions on or and submitting endless cover letters and resumes by email will only get you so far.

Every single job that I’ve had came from networking with people, including Wilcox Group. It will very likely help me land my next role too.

Trevor Boudreau


~ by Wilcox Group Team on August 6, 2010.

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