Graduates fresh out of college typically have great energy and excitement for their chosen field but little in the way of practical experience. Public relations or communications graduates often have some of the skills needed to succeed but will need to learn the rest on the job.
Here are four of the top PR skills graduates need to succeed in their first real job:
Building relationships with clients.
Digital communications make it very easy for us to put minimal effort into our relationships with people. Sending a text or email is a lot easier than calling someone or scheduling a meeting. The technology designed to make communications easier can keep us from having effective verbal communication and good relationships. When working with clients, you need to learn how to connect and develop trust through face-to-face conversations. Learning how to ask the right questions and read body language is tremendously important in the PR industry.
If you’re working with a PR firm, you will likely be expected to juggle tasks, deadlines, and events with multiple clients. PR professionals rarely have a regular schedule or day-to-day routine. Deadlines can help you prioritize, but many PR students don’t learn to pace themselves. We often do what is urgent rather than essential, which can keep you from succeeding in the long term. Business is going on 24 hours a day, and you must learn to prioritize professional tasks and balance your personal life to be the most productive.
Taking things personally.
A healthy dose of humility is essential for anyone going into PR as a career. When a client is unhappy with results or a project takes an unexpected turn, you will face criticism. While you need to accept responsibility, it’s also important to remember that mistakes happen—and you need to learn from them and improve. If your superior reprimands you, it’s because they want you to do better.
Leadership and collaboration skills.
In school, leadership is about taking charge in group projects, being the first person to speak up in class, and always having the “right” answer. But that’s not what is expected of you in the workforce. You need to be able to listen as well as speak. You need to put forth your best effort every day. It would help if you took more than your fair share of the blame and less than your fair share of the credit. Do what’s needed—and play whatever role is required—to get the job done, call the desired results, and make the client happy.