When I was leaving for university, a friend gave me a Dr. Seuss book called Oh, the places you’ll go. Even though I laughed at the time, this book ended up providing me with one-liner mantras to say to myself when up against new challenges: “Step with care and great tact -- and remember that life is one great balancing act.”
You can read and study the tactical elements involved in pursuing your PR career, and while these steps are important, it has been my experience that there are a few inherent qualities involved with “making it happen," in this industry. Here are a few pieces of advice that I attribute to building a successful career in PR:
Find your niche
It is hard to be passionate about something you don’t believe in or aren't excited about. I fell into the beauty industry, almost by accident but realized quickly that I enjoyed working with lifestyle brands and the media in this space and this enthusiasm is reflected in the ideas and passion I have for the projects I work on. Align yourself with brands that sing to you.
Don’t just talk, say something
There are times in your PR career when you will have three minutes to make an impression. It is important to keep this in mind in client meetings, at events and even during face-time with your superiors. Similar to how we coach our clients to keep their key messages top of mind during a media interview, we must keep our own “messages” in check. What do you want each person to remember and take away from a conversation with you?
Check fear at the door
That’s right, fear doesn’t belong here. Speak up in a team meeting -- there are no bad ideas in brainstorming. Ask yourself, what is the worst outcome that could happen? You will get further by participating fully in the work you do with clients, and being curious about all aspects of the business. I failed my way to success, and to a better understanding of the kinds of clients and accounts I love, by first taking chances and learning what I liked and didn’t like.
Don’t take it so seriously
Yes, there are very serious parts of our business, after all we protect a client’s image and manage the flow of information to a public audience -- but -- there is no need for tears in the bathroom stall!
My mentor continues to remind me: “It is PR, not ER.”
There is something to be said about that. Breathe, take a step back, and keep the bigger picture in mind. Very likely, the small mistake, or challenge, will be forgotten in a few weeks time. It is your demeanor, and how you handle these situations that will be remembered.
Best of luck on a successful career in PR!
Shannon de Laat is an accomplished lifestyle & beauty Public Relations specialist with over nine years of experience in strategic communications. As Founder and Principal of SdL PR Group, she uses a creative and relevant approach when consulting and developing publicity campaigns that raise public profiles and elevate clients' brands.
Prior to founding SdL PR Group in 2011, Shannon worked with a diverse range of premium lifestyle and beauty brands at boutique PR agencies in New York, London and Toronto. These include high-profile brands such as: Bombay Sapphire Gin & Grey Goose Vodka, Champagne Gosset, lululemon Athletica, Diptyque Paris, CARGO Cosmetics, Miraj Spa by Caudalie Paris, Dermalogica, NEUTROGENA, Aveeno and RoC Skincare.
Photo Credit: givisiez