One of my favorite childhood memories is of the annual shopping excursion for school supplies, with the coveted “list” in hand and my finagling extra items to buy, such as scented Magic Markers or a locker mirror (Mom: “Are they on your list?” Me: “They should be.”). So much promise is stuffed into the backpack – the coming school year would be the year of getting all A’s, making new friends, excelling at one sport. Fresh supplies, fresh outlook.
Fast-forward decades later, and while your backpack has been replaced with an electronic device, a soft leather briefcase and a brain full of too-much-information, you’ve never stopped learning….right? As a Communicator, what do you need to have a “Straight A Year”? Some suggested “supplies”:
- Calculator: as a PR pro, it comes down to some sort of bottom line and it’s often financial. So get familiar with your numbers and your boss’s boss’s goals and make sure what you’re doing adds up.
- Mentor: find someone you can brainstorm with fairly regularly, and who can help you advance in your career.
- A life: having a life outside of work is essential to business success.
- A voice on social media: Contribute to the online conversation with interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking content that has your personality stamp on it.
- Pen and paper: write a thank-you note to a colleague/peer/partner at least once a month, and (imagine this) send it in the mail.
- A specialty: you can’t be the Varsity soccer team captain, but you can be the go-to measurement person in your organization or the crisis expert or the social media leader. Pick a specialty and pursue it.
- Smile: takes less muscle strength and improves your public image.
- Travel budget: get out of the office to visit with peers, attend events and score new ideas.
- Training budget: take a class, attend a webinar or conference, make it a priority to learn something new.
- Plan B: Create a back-up plan for any PR initiative and, of course, be familiar with your crisis management plan.
- Make new friends: create a list of at least 3 people/month you want to develop a relationship with (reporters, analysts, CMOs, CEOs, entrepreneurs, service providers), set up a call or in-person meeting with each of them, and figure out what you have to offer in the friendship. Nurture these relationships, don’t talk behind their backs and play well in the sandbox. Just like in school.
What would you add to the list of supplies? Please chime in. At the very least you’ll get an A for participation.
– Diane Schwartz
On Twitter: @dianeschwartz