Memo to new graduates from a rising star

It’s been almost two years since Account Executive, Shannon Pentecost, graduated from University and joined the big league in the field of Public Relations (PR).

From the outside, people usually perceive PR to be a glamourous job, full of stylish events and the opportunity to work with some top brands – who can forget Heidi Montag from The Hills aspiring for PR domination? Only she found that instead of attending all the killer parties she’d be manning the doors with a clipboard instead. Well, that’s only the beginning and after stepping off the sidelines and into the ‘real world’ I’ve come to find that it’s a completely different ball game out here.

Studying was a little like sitting on the beginner’s bench for game I’d never played before, I knew the basics but I didn’t have a clue how to play or what I was up against, and when it came time for me to step up to the plate, I couldn’t help but feel out of my league and unprepared.

Throughout my PR degree, I don’t remember being encouraged to pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, or watch the news to better my understanding of the media landscape I’d soon be working in. Yet, as a PR practitioner, it’s vital to have an extensive understanding of who’s who in every realm, competitors and all. The job itself involves regular contact with an assortment of journalists, editors, designers, presenters, producers and social media influencers – whether it’s pitching a feature story or a simple product placement, every PR play revolves around research and relationships.

Nevertheless, building these relationships is something you can only truly accomplish out in the field. Fresh out of the classroom it can be extremely daunting jumping on the phone to the Fashion Editor of NEXT magazine, but now I’d say this is one of my favourite tasks. Nothing is more rewarding than compelling a journalist (who’s normally inundated with similar pitches) to run a story on your particular initiative, campaign or product. Some of my best wins have come from taking the smallest of products (like a bag of lollies) and securing it in a top placement such as a radio or TV interview. It goes to show that you can’t be afraid to play a little hardball when it comes time to pitch!

In order to keep your head in the game, a good PR person needs have the ability to wear many hats. When you work in communications you may be required to learn a lifetime’s worth about an industry completely unfamiliar in order to perform your role effectively. In just a year I’ve gone from working with luxury cars to fashion, cameras, and the food and beverage industry. There are very few jobs out there which allow you to constantly learn even as your career evolves and I love the constant opportunities to learn with each new client.

Overall, though it definitely has its moments, PR isn’t all fun and games as it’s made out to be on reality shows. It takes hard work, a creative eye, a keen attitude and a hunger for results. Having learnt so much already I’m excited to think where this ever-changing, constantly upbeat industry will take me next. Looking to the future I want to continue to learn, move up through the ranks and hit a few home runs with some new and exciting clients!