20 things I have learnt over 20 years in PR – Part 2

Ana By Ana

So, to continue on from my last post on what I have learnt over the past 20 years, below is the second instalment. The focus for these next 10 is on what is critical to success in PR, with an emphasis on getting the basics right, such as attention to detail and reporting.

11) You shouldn’t be afraid to say no

You shouldn’t be afraid to say no, whether that is to your teams about a deadline (you need to own your own time) or to clients asking you to do something you don’t believe will get results. At the end of the day you are being paid to give advice, so it is your duty to do so.

12) Humility is a valuable trait

Clearly PR is a people industry, so humility will take you a long way. Keep any ego in check and admit when you are wrong, or you don’t know all the answers, and you will engender loyalty and build a team that isn’t afraid to make mistakes and can learn from them.

13) Understanding client objectives is key to success

OK, so this might seem like an obvious one, but you really do always need to have these in mind. Coverage in the FT may be great but if it doesn’t contribute to an objective then you haven’t done your job and you won’t achieve a business outcome.

14) Reporting is often what PR is judged on

If I had a pound for every time someone had told me in an interview that their most hated task is reporting… well anyway you get the idea. The hard truth though, is that ultimately it is what the agency is judged on, so getting it right and sending it in a timely manner really is important.

15) ATD is critical

Similarly, a piece of writing can be on the level of Shakespeare but if you have typos in it, that is what the piece will be remembered for. It is worth remembering that clients are paying for our editing skills and therefore quite rightly expect all materials to be error-free.

16) Organisation is key

Time management is the perennial challenge for PRs. So, getting your organisation skills honed and processes in place to ensure you meet deadlines will set you up for your career. Ask any account director what they really value in their teams and organisation, reporting and ATD will be up there at the top.

17) Processes are the foundation to a successful business

Our operations manager Hannah has really brought this to the fore, but processes help a business run smoothly; from collaboration, to time management, to HR processes, to inductions and training; they all help an agency run efficiently and effectively.

18) It’s PR not ER

PR can be very stressful, so taking a step back and realising that nothing is the end of the world is really important for mental health and wellbeing. And make sure if you are feeling overwhelmed you speak to someone.

19) It’s alright to take a lunch break

Because it is a stressful industry, there can be a temptation to work long hours and skip lunch. This really is counter-productive to good work and results. Make sure you take the time to step away from your desk at lunch and work fast and hard in traditional office hours.

20) I hate aircon

You might think I am running out of 20 things to write about and while you could be right in part, this really is one I am passionate about. My hatred for aircon is on a level with the tube and pigeons. I just don’t get it when it is just 20 degrees outside why you need to have aircon? And when we have about three days of the year where it is truly hot in London why wouldn’t you want to celebrate that, rather than re-enacting the freezing to death scene from The Shining?!

Well, if you have made it this far you are clearly interested in progressing your PR career. I personally fell into the career and was set on being either an interpreter or a barrister but can honestly say I am so glad that I did. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 20 years and look forward to what the next 20 years will bring.