7 Tips to Accelerate Your PR Career and Be Perceived as a True Leader

BY JULIE BATLINER, President, spong

Our jobs in public relations provide us with amazing opportunities you just can’t get in other careers. In what other job do you get to learn a lot about a lot, be paid to read the news, immerse yourself in pop culture, soak up social conversations and be trusted with the deepest issues a company could have?

With that come challenges and opportunities. It’s an industry where we have an insatiable appetite for ideas, the news never stops, social channels never go dark and we can’t control issues the way our advertising counterparts can when they pay for a campaign to break. Knowing we can easily find ourselves always on, how do we even have time to think about our career paths?

In the last month alone, I’ve moderated two women’s leadership panels, had coffee with four mid-level professionals and read 10 annual reviews. The question everyone seems to have is: How do I grow and succeed? Here are seven tips to consider.

1. Empower Your Team: You may be a victim of the It-Will -Take-Less-Time-If-I-Do-It-Myself syndrome. Let go of it. No one can do everything. It takes a team and diversity of thinking to help your business grow. And involving others in ways that are accountable helps everyone grow.

I recently read “Do Nothing: How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader.” I was extremely skeptical considering the realities of the PR practice. The whole premise is that great leaders don’t work; they facilitate and orchestrate. They think of great strategies and help others implement them. While “do nothing” should not be taken literally, there definitely is a lesson to be learned from empowering others and allowing yourself time to think about things that can most influence your business.

2. Be Resilient: PR changes often. While the same definition holds true—public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics—the way we communicate and the channels we use change often. We can plan only as far as the next media person who leaves their beat, a new CMO who comes in or when the next Periscope is launched. We should view our roles, our plans and the ways we measure success as chapters—not permanent. What got you here will not get you there. Resilience is key to success. Redefining your focus for the challenge at hand is key and will never fail you.

3. Never Stop Being Curious and a Critical Thinker: Sometimes we get so busy executing, we forget to watch what’s happening in the world around related topics. We might be missing the brand opportunity of a lifetime to tie into a trend or a pop culture happening.

We need to keep asking why is this product, service or brand relevant to our opportunity audiences?

Instead of accepting something, ask why and then ask why again. Find the reason behind the question, statement or problem and it will lead you to a whole new depth of thinking.

4. Practice Positive Leadership: While it’s important to listen to the complainers, the energy suckers and the naysayers so you are aware of their points, it’s more important to protect your mind from their negative influences.

Positive thinking, energetic leadership and problem solving versus pessimistic thinking is what sets the best leaders apart. Positive leaders are infectious and listened to. They always strive for a solution and know how to reassure others that we’re all in this together. The goal is to look for positive ways for teams to work together for go-forward plans that are as effective as they are efficient.

5. Weigh Your Decisions Appropriately: Not all decisions are created equal. Learn how to prioritize them. Think through how an action might influence growth or profitability of your organization. Focus on the decisions that will provide the most in those areas and see them through.

6. View Every Challenge as an Opportunity: It’s easy to focus so much on the problem that you cannot see the opportunity in front of you. The bigger the problem or challenge you are able to solve, the more you will be noticed and trusted.

You may be in an annoying situation with a team member or supervisor. You may have a prickly client. You might be working too much to cover a co-worker on parental leave. You may be handling a tough issue for a client. All of these things are opportunities to find solutions and showcase your abilities. Take advantage of them.

7. Remember it’s PR not ER: Always keep perspective. There is very little that is worth getting in a tizzy over. We are in charge of building and sometimes saving brands, but we are not brain surgeons with a patient cut open on the table. Take it seriously, but avoid the drama and keep a good perspective. It will help you be a better problem-solver.

CONTACT: @juliebatliner

 This article originally appeared in the October 19, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.

One response to “7 Tips to Accelerate Your PR Career and Be Perceived as a True Leader

  1. “Remember it’s PR not ER.” This is so important for leaders and all pros in a position of setting an example for other team members. Perspective is key.

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