When you have finished college, the world seemed bright and rosy. Six months later after scouring through job servers every day and hoping that the next offer might be for you, your enthusiasm has started to wane. You had expected the world to make sense and have a job secured the minute you entered the workforce. Cut to the present. You are working for a very average salary (sometimes even less than that) and you are happy that you’re not below the poverty line. What went wrong? A couple of things, actually.
Rigid adherence to the rules
You know how to write a press release and you know what to do with it. You engage with the journalists without spamming them and use the BCC: field properly. When calling the press, you make sure not to say things like “Did you get my press release?” Even though you do everything like you’ve been taught, it still doesn’t work. Understand that PR in theory is detached from the specific social reality you are operating in. The theories help you recognise patterns but will never help you adapt. You have to do that yourself.
Do you finally realise that everything is about contacts and relationships? So many graduates underestimate creating and cultivating the relationships before they enter the workplace. Building strong ties with the journalists in advance will help a great deal when you’re starting up because you will get some of your information published more easily. That means less sleepless nights and less awkward blank monthly coverage reports.
No room for redemption
Very few agencies give you a chance to screw up. They are hard-pressed to be efficient and they have a lot of fresh graduates who to choose from. Even little things, like messing up an invitation or grammatical errors, work against you when the boss finds out. Failing early and failing fast is essential for your success but it’s harmful for the organisation’s reputation.
God just hates you
Interventions of force majeure are sometimes inevitable. While you think you are build a long-lasting relationship, the editor in question decides to leave the industry, often to become a PR man himself. Yeah, that happened to me too. Or that the publication you sought to build a mutually beneficial relationship closes down. That also happened to me – Cristina Muntean’s Czech Business Weekly died at the beginning of this month. I miss it already.
You are just another Gen Y’er
I think that others have articulated the ails of hiring, working and generally coexisting with a member of the Generation Y thoroughly and succinctly. Check out the posts by Bill Sledzik, Todd Defren and Jed Hallam for more inspiration. I would like to single out one quote by Todd Defren regarding employment.
My advice then — and you may see it as biased — is to stay put for a while. I am talking 3 – 5 years, at least.
Everybody can eventually find a job. Only the good ones can keep it and grow. I have a colleague who has been in PR for about five years and knows the industry, the practices and day-to-day reality inside out. This is a pre-requisite for the upcoming stellar career in the field.
Don’t worry, there is a way out of this mess. You have to endure and learn. Your self-confidence will take one beating after another but that is no reason to abandon the world of Public Relations. If you truly enjoy what you do and if you have what it takes, you will succeed. There is no other way.