If mastering the press release formula and memorizing the Associated Press Stylebook were all it took to be successful in public relations, we’d all already be retired. Contrary to what your professor might’ve told you, PR is not only about those things.
To be successful in this industry, you have to live it. Your job doesn’t have to be your entire life — I’m a huge work-life balance advocate — but you need to learn to apply PR to your existing interests, skills and daily routine.
As an account executive, I start my day with a viral TikTok breakfast which currently consists of overnight oats, coffee and a good book. I’ve been an avid reader since high school and helped start our office’s book club. This summer we’re reading Smart Brevity by Axios’ co-founders.
I then take to social media and screenshot anything that feels important. I look at what journalists are saying on X, formerly known as Twitter, as well as Threads, for which brands are trending and what campaigns are launching. I have an album on my phone called “Work,”’ that’s dedicated to these screen grabs.
I board the uptown E train listening to The New York Times’ The Daily podcast. My commute across Manhattan gives me time to get up to speed on the day’s news. If I’m not in the know before I get to the office, how could anyone expect me to do my job? My media monitoring starts as soon as I swipe my Metrocard.
A second coffee and social interaction is necessary upon my arrival to the office. I’m a big social butterfly and caffeine lover, so it’s my favorite part of the day. On one occasion, I happened to be making coffee next to my agency’s CEO. You bet I introduced myself and connected with her on LinkedIn! Face time is key to expanding your network, especially as a young professional, and it provides opportunities that would otherwise be hidden.
I prepare for my meetings by referencing my earlier screenshots and think, “How does this apply to my work?” Wondermind is having an in-market event, so should someone attend? Women’s Health is doing a sleep feature, so let’s pitch them. Thinking about media I consume through a PR lens helps me establish myself as the go-to person for trending news and fresh ideas.
I ask colleagues what they’re reading, who they’re following and what’s next. I look for upcoming training sessions and sign up for as many as my schedule allows. I’m currently trying to attend AI webinars. Making time for additional learning opportunities helps me keep my finger on the pulse of what is changing in the industry and better prepares me to ideate my career path.
Living PR may look different for you, but if you can find a way to apply comms to your daily routine, you will stand out in this industry. As it turns out, no one actually cares if you know the AP style guide by heart.
Ellie Baldwin is an account executive at Ruder Finn.