What I wish I knew before starting in PR

Feb 14, 2022
5 min

PR is a fast paced, reactive, and creative industry and I'm absolutely loving it. BUT, there are a couple of things I wish I knew before starting my career in PR.

Getting started in PR can be a daunting prospect, especially when you come from a background of journalism and your sole PR experience is one module on a three-year course. So, after a third of a year in PR, what have I learned? And what do I wish I had known before?

1. PR is not advertising

From a place of very basic understanding it can be easy to see PR as advertising for your clients, but this is not the case. PR is about creating campaigns (by providing insight and value to your clients' audience) with the goal of creating organic brand awareness.

It’s about working around the clients’ goals and values to help share their message.

2. Be persistent

Now that I have a few months of pitching under my belt, I have come to understand the importance of being persistent, and patient! Even the perfect pitch can be ignored by journalists so it is important not to get hurt by that.

Often, reporters will ignore, turn down, or reject an opportunity. It is vital not to become dejected by this. Instead of thinking ‘this is all wrong’, it is better to think ‘what can I do to make this more appealing?’. This way, you can adapt your pitching style to make it alluring to journalists.

3. Build relationships

In journalism, building relationships is everything, and PR is no different. Having contacts in high-profile roles and/or suitable people in relevant titles makes it SO much easier to get coverage. If everything goes smoothly when working with a journalist to publish a piece, then they are more likely to work with you again.

Demonstrate that you are capable of working professionally within their time frame. Why? Because they are much more likely to open your email the next time you need coverage.

4. Become familiar with a range of titles

Consuming news is incredibly important in PR. Staying up to date and continuing to be reliably informed on current events is hugely beneficial. Understanding what content is in particular titles, as well as the style they write in, makes it a lot easier to determine where to pitch certain stories and clients.

Don’t become too comfortable with one major publication since it is not always going to be suitable with what you’re working on. Having a well-balanced media diet will go a long way into being successful in PR.

5. Expect the unexpected

When working most jobs, it becomes easy to fall into a general routine.

Knowing what you’re likely to be working on each day. This is NOT the case in PR. You have to be prepared for everything, even when it appears to be running smoothly. You have to be ready to drop whatever you had planned to do in case there’s an urgent email you need to address, or there’s a complication in the campaign you’re planning.

It is vital to understand early on how to stay organised and work out the best way to react and adapt to sudden changes.

6. Preparing for your career in PR

Adapting to a new craft is always going to be tricky at first, and there’s a long way to go before being comfortable in all areas relating to PR. Even someone who’s been in the industry for years can still have issues and complications.

So don’t panic.

It’s a learning process and the only way to get better is to apply yourself, learning from what you do right, and what you do wrong. However, having an understanding of these tips before starting will go a long way in managing your expectations, and preparing you for a role in PR.