Just Starting Out in PR? Here’s How To Have an Immediate Impact on the Industry

Advice for young PR professionals on how to build up your reputation and make an immediate impact.

Sarah Riley
Vice President

First published in PR Daily, a news site that delivers news, advice, and opinions on the public relations, marketing, social media, and media worlds. Reprinted here with permission.

Even if you don’t come into a new PR role with media relationships with top-tier business publications, it’s surprisingly easy to make an immediate impact—broken down here in three easy steps:

1. Ask questions early and often.

Not knowing how to do something, how to define an industry term, or where to find agency assets are all OK—but waiting six months to figure it out is not.

The first few weeks of your new gig or internship are made for discovery, and there is no better time to ask “What is edge computing and how does it relate to the cloud?” or “Why did we choose to go the exclusive route for this Series B announcement?” Asking well-informed questions (an important distinction: don’t pepper your teammates with things you can easily Google) is a surefire way to show teammates you’re engaged in the process, eager to learn, and have a desire to understand your role holistically.

An intern I previously worked with did this well. After hearing an update from a client’s analyst relations lead during a call, she asked for 20 minutes of my time post-meeting to discuss how analyst firms function, how they relate to PR, what a good AR program looks like, how she could gain access to their reports, and more. Although she wouldn’t be pitching or running an analyst briefing for quite a while, she was more prepared to tackle it in the future than if she had idly taken notes and hadn’t raised her hand.

2. Sweat the small stuff.

Regardless of seniority, experience or project, getting the details right (the first time) is essential. Whether you’re an intern pulling a speaking submission form or a new VP drafting a strategy brief, the closer to client-facing an item is by the time it makes its way to your teammates, the better. Especially when you’re still getting up to speed, your colleagues may not expect you to nail a longtime client’s messaging right away, but they will be wowed by something professional, clean and ready to be shipped with little input.

A recent addition to our team has nailed this in every aspect. He works from existing templates, adds everything he can, and annotates his best attempt for sections he isn’t sure about. His teammates can trust if they’re receiving a project from him, they won’t need to tweak anything but the verbiage he’s still learning about. It’s a godsend.

3. Communicate effectively.

We’re in the communications field, after all! New employees are a goldmine of information and prior experience is incredibly valuable to teams, but only if it’s being adequately utilized.

Especially when you’re onboarding remotely, communicating what you’re working on, what your bandwidth is (whether you have too much or not enough to do) and what you’re interested in digging into is essential.

There’s a way to delicately balance oversharing a laundry list of to-dos across all of your responsibilities and suffering in silence while more gets added to your plate. Err on the side of asking for help prioritizing, not one-upping your colleagues about how much you have on your to-do list. Ask when your peers plan on reviewing something if your priorities have shifted and you need to buy more time.

The role of leadership

The majority of the responsibility for getting employees set up for success should fall on company leadership. It’s on team and company leaders to create an environment conducive to learning, that welcomes questions, dedicates time and resources to teaching, and is welcoming and inclusive of people from different backgrounds.

But as a new employee, if you enter your role willing to ask questions, with keen attention to detail, and the ability to fluidly communicate, you’ll be ready to make an immediate impact on your teams—regardless of your level of expertise.