What’s an entry-level job like? Is it a lot different than an internship?
Honestly, the answer is yes and no. The actual projects and tasks I was doing as an in-school and then post-grad intern are relatively the same: develop a media list, write a pitch or press release, social media content creation (just to name a few). What is different is your mindset!
You have to stop thinking about the short-term goals and going from project to project. Change how your mind thinks from “Okay, I finished this task. Now what? What’s my next task?” to “How is this task going to play into the bigger picture? How is it going to better my client’s reputation and brand? What can we do differently to have a better experience for the customer?”
See the difference? Instead of being task-oriented, you need to start thinking in more of a strategic and long-term way. This isn’t just a three-month internship that will end and then you’ll move onto the next thing. This is your job! And hopefully you’ll be there for at least a few years, so you have to start thinking like it.
So you’ll still be doing those same tasks at the beginning of your career, but now you should know why you are doing them and what bigger purpose they serve for the client. Now it does take time to transition your thinking, trust me. I’m still getting the hang of it! But here’s a few pointers that I’ve learned down the line at this job that have really helped me begin to change my mindset.
When developing a media list, consider how it’s going to be used. Will this be just a one-time distribution or should you constantly be updating it and making sure all the contacts are correct so it’s always ready? Then, take it upon yourself to do that without having to be told to do it!
So your client wants to get coverage? Have you thought about other verticals (or markets) the product or service could fit into? Who know – there might be an entire audience segment that you could be missing. Think outside of the box. Worst case is, you pitch a story and no one picks it up. At least you tried!
Instead of just posting on the client’s Facebook or Twitter, look at the reach and impressions of the posts. Does the audience engage more with photos or links? Really analyze what is working successfully on the pages and recommend adjusting the content accordingly. (Bonus: you’ll look like a social media guru if you are the one recommending changes to the pages!)
Speak up in brainstorms! One of the best ways you are going show your team that you are thinking about what’s best for the client is to actually offer valuable suggestions in team brainstorms. If you know you have one tomorrow, spend some time today doing your own research on what other brands have done, what worked and what didn’t. Go ahead and start making a list of possible ideas. You’ll walk into the meeting already prepared with some ideas to kick things off instead of staring at your hands because you can’t think of anything at that moment.
These are just a few to get you started in thinking like a PR professional rather than an intern. In fact, to get ahead of your competition, I would encourage you to show your future employer during the interview process that you are already thinking this way. You’ll definitely impress them and show that you are one strong candidate for that job if you are already thinking strategically. So start thinking about the bigger picture and end game now. If you do, I’m sure you’ll be a pro in no time!
Guest post by: Jennifer Powell is a PR Coordinator at M/C/C, an integrated marketing agency in Dallas, Texas. She assists the PR team on a variety of tasks including traditional media and blogger relations as well as managing social media channels for the clients she represents. When she's not being a little busy bee, you can probably find her desperately trying to turn her Pinterest closet into a reality without breaking the bank!