5 Lessons from a New Grad Working in PR

  • Categories:

    Public Relations

  • Date:

    October 05, 2015

5 Lessons from a New Grad Working in PR



Public Relations

Account Coordinator Marlee Murphy is an expert at connecting people with brands they will love. Originally from Salisbury, North Carolina, Marlee graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism and mass communications, with a specialization in strategic communications, and a second major in political science. You might recognize her from March Madness commercials or the Jumbotron at Tar Heel games.

To all of my fellow new graduates, welcome to the real world. These are uncertain times, marked by a series of new adventures. Whether you’re living (really) on your own for the first time, tackling a move to an unknown city or learning the ropes at your dream (or not-so-dream) job, new grads must learn to become some of the most hardworking, adaptive and tough individuals around.

But after only a few short months in my first “real-world” job with Wray Ward, I’ve already picked up hundreds of tips and tools of the trade. And to save other recent grads some time and stumbling, I’m sharing my five top tips. Enjoy!

1. You’re in line at the grocery store behind a mom – arms full – and her rambunctious child, who is chattering incessantly about his upcoming field trip to the zoo. What do you do?

Do you continue scrolling through Instagram? Or do you initiate a conversation with the little boy about your experiences at the zoo? In the field of marketing and public relations, I’m learning that thoughtful, logical communication is a skill acquired and developed beyond the four walls of the office. You learn how to better represent and communicate with diverse audiences when you get to know them in their natural habitat. So in my case, I would initiate a conversation with the five-year-old. That move gives mom the space to fully concentrate on checking out, while providing me with quality marketing intel.

2. Are you going too the meeting? Are you bringing you’re laptop?

Ugh, just typing those mistakes made me cringe. You’re in the big leagues now – time to become a true professional. Read and re-read your pieces, even the simplest emails. With millions of messages swirling around, I can’t overemphasize the importance of grammar, style and spelling. Sometimes all it takes is one spelling error for a client or coworker to throw everything you’re saying right out the door – along with your credibility.

3. Why do you buy that cereal? Why do you drive that car? Why do you want to travel to Asia? Why do you use your iPhone to order dinner? Why did you pick that job? Why is that coffee shop your favorite?

Just like there are whys behind everything you do, there are also whys behind the actions of every single other person. Empathizing with people from diverse backgrounds and doing your best to understand their experience and needs will take you far in the work world. Empathy is a learned skill, and it helps you connect consumers with brands that make sense for them – which brings me to my next point: buy into the brands you support. Put your heart behind all of your communication. When you tackle projects with enthusiasm, the communication comes across as much more authentic and genuine. Clients, coworkers and consumers know when you care and when you don’t.

4. If you are creative, you are ____.

If you said good at drawing, painting or some other traditional art form, you are only half correct. I’m learning creativity is a part of each and every job. To be good at your job, you have to be a creative thinker, problem solver and communicator. Being in public relations (or any field of communications for that matter) means thinking creatively all day every day. Just because you’re not deemed a “creative” does not mean you can or should give up on out-of-the-box thinking. You need to be able to communicate a brand’s vision to new and existing customers in an exciting, inspiring way.

5. Who said it? “In the real world, my job will be consistent – finally I can expect the same thing day in and day out!”

Chances are, at some point in your undergraduate career, you made this claim. However, this could not be further from the truth. My real world job is malleable and easily transitions to embrace change. At an agency, you have to be nimble enough to work for multiple clients and able to turn on a dime to help achieve their goals. It’s about being flexible and teachable – a jack of all trades. As long as you have an up-for-anything mentality, you can succeed.

I hope these tips are helpful! To all you new grads out there, I wish you the best in this latest, exciting phase of your life.