The public relations industry is small. Despite the fact that there are numerous PR agencies around the world and nearly 230,000 people work in the field, many of us are connected by a few degrees of separation.
From Day 1 at your first internship or job in the PR industry, you begin to make a name for yourself. It might seem trite or silly of me to say that, but I still keep in touch with a number of the people I worked for at my college internships and same with some of the interns who have worked with me. I have a clear recollection in my mind of who worked hard, who was a great leader, who was a positive force in the office, and the same for people who complained a lot, placed blame on others when things got tough, and so on.
You never know when your first boss will be your client five years from now! Lasting impressions (good ones!) can be advantageous in a long term PR career when you’re job hunting, pitching new business and making new media connections. This field is centered on relationship building and you should protect your reputation fiercely when you put the work in to earn a good one.
For anyone in the field from the start of your career to the last days before retirement or a career switch, the importance of reputation and respect for both yourself and others should be deeply ingrained. We are crafters of reputation are we not?
Because I love lists, and why not, here’s a few things you can do to build and protect a solid reputation:
- Answer emails. If a job recruiter is reaching out but you aren’t looking at the moment, respond regardless thanking them for reaching out and that you hope to stay in touch down the road.
- Don’t talk badly about others. DUH. Word travels quickly in the COMMUNICATIONS FIELD.
- Don’t be self-serving. While you must watch your own back, your priorities at work should be serving your clients and the media; and if you are in a leadership position, the success of your reports. No one wants to help someone out who is a serial narcissist only out to get their own and is always asking, asking, asking and never giving.
- Promise, then deliver. From leadership to entry level positions, if you have a task at hand and others are depending on you to deliver, do so. Simple as that. If things aren’t going according to plan in your efforts to accomplish the task, whether it’s compiling a media list or a complete website overhaul, openly communicate such obstacles and a tentative timeline for completion.
- Respect people’s time. Time is at a premium in the office nowadays as we all move at breakneck speeds. If you schedule a meeting for an hour, stick to that time so people can move along with their day. Nothing says “I don’t respect your time” like holding people in a meeting for a lengthy amount of time with little accomplished other than you listening to yourself talk.
- Respect yourself. Your work and efforts should be quality.
- Above all else – remember The Golden Rule, and that other thing your mom taught you about not saying anything at all if you had nothing nice to say, etc.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou