July 22, 2005, was my first day in PR (or over on 'the dark side', if people are still saying that).
As is customary for us PR types, I thought I'd write a list (we love lists) about my learnings (we love that word) from my years in the industry (we love articles about our industry).
You never know, it might help you in your quest to become a good PR person, or it might just give you a couple of minutes distraction before Friday meeting (try the links). So... Here goes.
One. You just can't read enough news.
I read 200 RSS feeds every morning, and people still catch me out on a deal that's broken, or someone who's been fired, or a new global crisis. The next time someone asks you for your opinion on something you don't know, don't bluff, nod and say something generic in the hope they won't notice. Admit you have no idea and make a mental note to add 10 more feeds to your RSS reader, and take two newspapers on Saturday.
Two. You never have enough people.
In six whole years the agencies I worked at never had a full and complete headcount. Whether it's a grad trainee scheme without enough bright people in the funnel or a missing MD, there will always be a staffing crisis where people are filling in. The worrying thing about recruitment is that it's a long-term thing, and can't be fixed quickly. By the time you've filled the open roles, you will have grown and have two more vacancies. Deal with it.
Three. There is never enough time.
I could easily work 24 hours a day without a break, and never get to the bottom of my to-do list. Prioritisation and delegation are the two most important things you need in a PR agency. Anyone that has worked with me for any length of time will know that I'm terrible at both. I get away with it because I a) work with brilliant people and b) have an iPhone. Now go to your to do list and delegate 50% of the tasks.
Four. Your clients will never be 100% happy.
A happy client who isn't chasing you for new ideas, doesn't want to speak to you every day, and is satisfied with the coverage / hits / fans your campaign is getting is looking for another agency. The clients I know that are really engaged with their agency are constantly looking for bigger, brighter and better. This is how a relationship really works, with both parties getting something out of it. Oh, and getting drunk together helps too.
Five. You'll never be good enough.
Working in a PR agency is a bit like having 10 jobs at once. You're a salesperson, writer, administrator, events manager, designer, programmer, nurse, taxi driver, counsellor, actor, and occasionally barman. And that's just Monday. You can't possibly be excellent at all of them, so concentrate on the good feedback you get, and keep learning from the people around you. At some point you'll question if you're in the right job. Here's a clue: Yes.