We work in one of the greatest professions imaginable. Having experienced the varied sectors of our industry—public relations agency, corporate and government—there are five guiding principles I’ve learned that have made all the difference in how interesting, rewarding and fun our work can be. These tips have become somewhat of a roadmap and I share them with you, my fellow communicators, in hopes that they will bring you career success and satisfaction in 2012 and beyond.
1. Build Your Personal Brand
Take an active role in building your personal brand. Decide what you stand for and how that gets communicated over time. Create purposeful and consistent communications that support your brand across all available vehicles. Social media is a perfect platform since forums like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide an excellent outlet for brief, succinct dissemination of your messages.
2. “Use Your Powers Only for Good!”
This motto (from colleague and skilled graphic designer, Stephanie Helline of Strategic Design Studio) is one of my favorites because it perfectly captures the superhero-like specialized skills we have mastered. Our toolkit as communicators is powerful. We are the shapers of ideas. Those skills have a tremendous ability to affect the world around us. Make sure you use them in some way to give back—give your time to mentor students, support nonprofit organizations, positively impact your community, or advance our profession. And, always work only with clients, organizations and issues you can stand behind personally. If things change and you lose confidence or trust in those you are representing, it’s time to walk.
3. Be a Cross-Trainer
Savvy communicators use all tactics and strategies at our disposal to reach key target markets—it makes no difference if the approach is considered public relations or more of a traditional marketing tool. Understand how to each different tactic can best be used to deliver the most effective outcome. The best campaigns seamlessly integrate both public relations and marketing. Keep up on the latest developments and ask yourself, “What will most effectively deliver the measurable objective we have set?”
4. Make a Commitment to Bold-Faced Integrity
Daily, purposeful, bold-faced integrity in all things should be a driving focus in your career. From following a professional Code of Ethics, to adhering to your own moral code, as a communications professional I believe there is no other way to operate.
5. Know that Nothing Gets Done in a Vacuum
You are not the Lone Ranger forging your career. The truth is none of us get very far alone. It takes a village of supporters, colleagues, mentors and friends. Get active in groups like WWPR, PRSA, IABC, AMA and other communications organization whose membership is a ‘Who’s Who’ list of some of the most accomplished communicators in our industry. And, think about how you can be helpful to your colleagues in both big and small ways. Choosing to approach your profession with a spirit of partnership and mentorship, rather than a competitive stance, takes your career to a whole new level.
We are all an amalgam of the people who have come into our lives at some point and left their mark. Each of these open, generous, knowledgeable communicators elevates our great profession. Think about what mark you will leave and take an active role in making it happen. Bring energy, excitement and purpose to your field and build your own reputation for greatness.
I hope to see many of you at future WWPR events and I wish you all the best in the coming holiday season and new year!