Progressing in a career is much like traveling down a road to your paradise destination. First, you designate where you ultimately want to be and then choose the best route to get there in a timely fashion. Then you begin your journey down the road following the mapped out directions. But what if you see an exit that leads to a destination you’d prefer? Do you take it, or do you stick to the plan? If you do take it, was the time traveled down the other road a waste? At any point in the journey, switching paths, whether on a road trip or in a career, can be a risky and scary endeavor.
I recently changed careers, leaving my job as an executive recruiter to become an assistant account executive in public relations. During my time at the recruiting firm, I developed a set of skills and implemented various tactics to be efficient and close as many deals as possible. While these fundamentals were established to optimize productivity in recruiting, I have been pleasantly surprised that these skills serve a purpose in the PR world as well.
- Start with research: Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also be embarrassing. When recruiting, my first step was always to conduct in-depth research about the client, the open position and the area where the office was located. Once I knew the details, I felt confident and prepared to pitch the position to prospective candidates. I have found that in PR, the more you know about your client, the easier it is to find a story angle that fits a reporter’s beat and gets them interested in your client.
- Know Your Audience: Every person is unique, and every pitch should be as well, whether you’re pitching a job opening or a media story. Know the background of the person to whom you’re talking, and tell them something substantive while incorporating your key message in the mix. Tailor your message to your audience and always be ready to answer “What’s in it for me?”
- Be proactive: When I worked in recruiting I used Google alerts to stay on top of employment opportunities and proactively offered candidates to my best clients. In PR, I’ve found that being proactive is optimal for securing media coverage for a client. Don’t just wait for the next press release to get in touch with a reporter; keep an eye on topics in the news to which your client can speak and get in touch with the media covering it.
- Be sure to ABC (Always Be Closing): Just because a candidate had verbally accepted an offer did not mean the deal would come to fruition. I had to follow my prospect through the process until the deal was signed, sealed and delivered. This tactic is much like following up on a pitch that a media outlet agreed to publish. Follow up and offer assistance until the story is published or aired.
Ultimately, I found the road I traveled down in recruiting to be extremely beneficial in reaching the path to a career in PR. Being able to apply skills I’ve learned during my professional career so far is testament that every job has skills and values that can be obtained and utilized when working any position. I’m thrilled to continue this journey to my paradise destination.