Looking for a Public Relations Agency? Use our Free matching service to find the right agency for you.

User login

PRCA Africa NextGen: Career Progression: Have fun, fail forward, and forge ahead

A career in PR and communications is one of the most exciting, fun fields that a person can enter. While they say it takes a specific type of person to pursue and thrive in PR, the key tenet at the core of each consultant is a fierce tenacity and can-do attitude.

Going from the classroom to the boardroom can be both an amazing and daunting experience, and for many young PR Professionals it’s an overwhelming journey that marks the first step in their PR careers.

Career progression is something that should be sought after, intentionally worked on, and owned by both the PR consultant and their employer! The need to grow, thrive, learn, and execute meaningful work is key to a fulfilled career and should play a huge role in advancing from intern, to account executive and all the way up to business unit director or head of division.

The pace of PR is also one of the most challengingly and rewarding elements of a career in this field. In order to keep an eye on the long-term career progression prize, keep the below in mind:

1. Ask questions all the time & volunteer

PR consultants are inquisitive, curious, and always learning! Remove any fear and hesitation around asking questions and embrace needing to know – everything.

There’s no such thing as “that’s not my job” in PR and the willingness to dive in and try something new in support of your team or division will accelerate your growth and build a strong work ethic.

2. Be a sponge and never stop learning

Absorb absolutely everything you can from clients, colleagues, competing brands and industry voices. The most impactful way to grow your career is to learn and understand what the industry is doing, what best practice looks like, and how different individuals understand and interpret different briefs and client needs to develop impactful solutions that move the needle. There are industry associations, free online short-courses, and a multitude of networking events and social gatherings for industry professionals looking to learn from each other and learn more about their industry.

3. Self-teach the soft skills

A good PR consultant learns on the go, through experience, and from their day-to-day. A great consultant takes the extra time to invest in their soft skills and emotional intelligence and resilience needs. Focussing on yourself, your personality, how you work with others, and your EQ will allow for a strong sense of self-awareness and self-management to get you through tough and stressful times and elevate your ability to grow into a leadership role.

4. Focus on the business, not just the brief

Take a step back and learn to engage beyond the brief in front of you. Considering the needs of your client, their business, and how you solve for more than the task they’ve put in front of you will ensure a deeper partnership based on trust and collaboration will be established. This is key to their seeing you as an extension of their team, and by default your ability to flex your creativity and elevate their campaign or communications and marketing need.

5. Keep calm and course-correct

There will always be a failure – in any job. It won’t be a once-off, and it won’t always be avoidable. The most important part of failure is to fail forward, and to learn from the issue, error, or experience taking away just enough to never make that same mistake again, while also working on mitigating against similar, often bigger mistakes down the line. Take a moment, take a breath, and take a step forward.

The most important thing to remember is that career progression is not a one-size-fits-all. Each journey is different with both vertical and horizontal growth every step of the way – regardless of your role or level. If you want to be a truly successful PR professional, stay firm in your convictions, inspired in your passion, and fired up by your curiosity and your journey will be a long and successful one.