As young PR professionals, we are in an exciting yet extremely overwhelming time where it can often feel like there is so much out there we simply don’t know. And so we need direction; we need to find someone who not only knows how to use the coffee maker in the office but who is willing to provide tips on cold calling editors and pitching on the spot. We need inspiration; we need to find someone we admire who encompasses the refined public relations professional we aspire to be. It’s time to find a mentor.
Find a mentor in the workplace
Your first PR internship is an obvious place to seek out such a person, a PR girl or guy who not only has the patience to teach you the basics, but who exemplifies PR prowess and ethics.
I was lucky enough to find 2 mentors at my very first internship in college at a small boutique PR firm. It was just the #BossLady, one account executive, 2 other interns and me. We all became very close. That internship was my very first experience in the industry and much of what I learned I still utilize to this day. Though we all continue to journey on different PR paths, we continue to catch up and discuss our successes as well as lean on each other.
Key Takeaway: We often think of mentors as grown ups with heaps more experience than we do, but peer mentors can be just as useful. Who can you add to your PR squad?
Find a mentor online
Even if you aren’t currently working in PR, or aren’t living in a city with a ton of networking opportunities, you have the entire internet at your disposal. There are a ton of blogs and other online resources, like Twitter chats, that can help to further your career development. By paying attention to the people managing and writing for these sites, you can identify potential mentors – ones that you never thought you’d get the chance to meet or work with!
Through NYC PR Girls, I stumbled upon PR Couture and was instantly obsessed. My classmates and I even planned an imaginary PR Couture Convention for one of our event planning classes. Through a little social media networking, we caught Crosby’s attention (gasp), and we were able to set up a meeting. Crosby instantly opened her arms and amazing wealth of knowledge to us, inviting us to pitch our conference and other ideas to her, and sharing information and seeking our feedback on a few emerging ventures. As a result, I was one of the first to sign up right away for her PRISM course and recently attended Fashion PR Confidential.
Key Takeaway: Don’t be confined by your physical limitations and always make the ask – the worst that can happen is you get a no. That’s a near-constant in PR anyway, so might as well get used to it!
Find a mentor outside your industry
It’s easy to get wrapped up with joining every club, reading every blog and finding public relations agency CEO, trying to find that perfect mentor. But sometimes a mentor is a business savvy relative, or someone you volunteer with or who is seriously kicking ass in an entirely different industry.
This may seem strange, but my best friend is one of my mentors. Her buoyant personality, unstoppable drive and go-getter business ethics not only make her my best friend, but someone I look up to as well. We feed off each other when we’ve had a little too much wine and when we need a little help crushing this whole “adulting” thing.
Key Takeaway: You might already be surrounded by potential mentors. Ask yourself how you might formalize these relationships. For example, asking your entrepreneurial cousin for a monthly coffee date, or even hiring a career coach.
Ultimately, this is a period of transition. What we need is support and direction, much more than any sort of official mentorship, so think broadly about how to assemble your own cast who can cheer you on from the wings. Once you’ve got a mentor, be sure to make the most of the mentor-mentee relationship and always focus on being as helpful to your mentor as she is to you.
About Morgan Hough
Morgan is an entry-level PR Girl currently living in sunny Stuart, Florida. She works as a Junior Account Executive at an advertising, PR & marketing firm for luxury real estate and as a freelance writer for fashion & lifestyle brands. Connect with her on Twitter.
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