Acing Communications: Navigating Career Growth in PR and Communications

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Kayla Fedorowicz
April 18, 2024
Acing Communications: Navigating Career Growth in PR and Communications

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and you should ‘yes’ to opportunities that feel right in your gut when they are brought to you. I can say that following this mentality has brought me to my career at Greenough at the right time in my life – in 2024, not in 2020 or in 2016 – but right now. This timing allowed me to work at some fantastic companies and learn skills on both in-house communications teams and at mid-sized tech PR agencies. I have gained and homed in on knowledge of different industries, crossed paths with people of all cultures, and learned some strong skills for client relations that I hope might help you in your career, whether you be 1, 5, 10, or 30 years in.  

I don’t have all the answers as I am still growing and learning on my own journey 10 years’ post-graduation but hope I can shed some light on skills that I believe transcend environments, whether that be on a Comms team of one or ten, or on agency teams of three.

Establish Clear and Strong Communication Skills

It may sound redundant, but the heart and core of our profession is communication. Yes, this sounds obvious, but communicating in the “real world” is much different than communicating as you did growing up. I believe good communication is a skill and something that people respect in the workplace. Your communication skills will stay with you throughout life – both professionally and personally – so here are a few tips to ensure you are interacting and engaging with your clients and internal teams in the most productive way.

  • Be personable. Yes, we must be professional in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be asking your clients or co-workers about their weekends, their families, things that people notice that you cared about. Showing your personality is also a good touch point, as many meetings are conducted over video platforms, so showing emotion has to be emphasized even more through a screen.
  • Respond in a timely manner. A goal I set for myself is to ensure I respond to an email or message from a client or partner outside my organization within 24 hours, even if I do not know the answer immediately. Keeping touch points and confirming receipt over email goes a long way in building trust between organizations. Internally you can leverage chat platforms to send off quick updates to be courteous to co-workers who for help. You can give yourself a little bit of grace when replying to colleagues on your team and the 24 hour “rule” does not need to apply.
  • Pause before hitting send. After much trial and error in my career, I now approach more complex email communication by drafting out all of my thoughts, putting that email away, coming back to it, and tightening it up. Taking a few minutes to put all your thoughts on paper (the good and the bad!) and coming back to it with fresh eyes oftentimes helps me soften the response. Remember, people have lives outside of work and could be dealing with more than you know from one email reply. Be kind.

Adopt Necessary Organization Skills

The hard truth is this – to succeed in a Comms role, you need to adopt amazing organization skills early on. But the great part about this truth is that everyone’s organization skills look a little different! Find what works best for you. Maybe you are a OneNote fanatic. Maybe you use sticky notes. Maybe you need to write tasks down. Whatever it may be, find what works for you and stick with it! Here are a few tips that I’ve learned that help me stay organized, no matter the medium.

  • I swear by a day-by-day planner with a week view. With this, I can slot in my weekly tasks on the day I know I need to do them – not the day before, not the day after. If you can keep your days organized and focus on the to-dos for each day individually, you will clear your mind and be able to focus on one day at a time.
  • Set realistic expectations for the week and stick to them. Sometimes, everything can feel like a priority, but take a step back and prioritize your priorities.

Focus on the Why, Not the What

Specializing in a career in communications is a special one. While in-house, you are able to absorb every aspect of your organization and be a true champion for the brand. At an agency, you are able to switch your mind to different clients and follow trends throughout numerous industries. Wherever you find your passion lying, bring that mentality to your workplace every day. When it comes to pitching in both environments, take a step out of your bubble and ask yourself “why would I find this story interesting?” or “why would I want to stop and read about this topic?” Stepping away from the ‘what’ and leaning into the ‘why’ is another transferable skill for success across both in-house and agency settings.

Do you agree with these skills? However you find success in your comms role, lean on your strengths early on and grow with organizations so you can take skills from each role you have on your new paths.

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