Learning to Launch: Lessons from PR & Marketing Pros on Getting Started in the Business

As a young professional exploring the marketing and communications industry, it’s been very important to me to gain a deeper understanding of the field. Interviewing my colleagues helped shed light on how more experienced professionals got their start in this field, what initially interested them about it, what they wish they had known before joining, and why they stayed. Hopefully, the insights shared in this blog can guide others who may be interested in a communications or marketing career.

How and why did you get into the communications industry?

Something unique about marketing is the variety of backgrounds marketers come from. Individuals that majored in law, education, economics, journalism, and more bring their remarkable skills, perspectives, and ways of creative thinking into the world of communications.

Even so, almost everyone expressed a mutual interest in writing and research. Erica Fisher explained that “PR is a culmination of marketing, writing, research, and strategy, allowing it to be a great industry to use a variety of skills.” For instance, Bill Braun shared that when considering different career paths, he asked himself, “How can I take my writing skills that I’m very confident in and best apply them to an environment that feels rewarding and interesting?” Annah Otis described marketing as a “field in which something new is always happening, platforms are constantly changing, and new trends are popping up hourly, so it’s a really exciting place to be.”

What is something you wish you knew before joining this field?

Before starting my career in communications, I felt confident that it required creative thinking and hard work. Those assumptions were correct, but there were also a lot of things I didn’t see coming. Many of my colleagues had similar experiences.

Kelly McIntosh astutely noted, “I didn’t realize before entering this field that staying on top of the news and being interested in what’s going on in the world around you is actually something that’s very valuable and marketable.” Like most employees at The Bliss Group, Kelly stays up to date with current events by keeping a close eye on the news and enjoys researching topics of interest. “I was just doing it for my own entertainment and enrichment before and now it’s such an essential part of my job,” she shared. “I’m glad to be somewhere where I’m being rewarded for listening, reading, and paying attention.”

Several colleagues reinforced the importance of staying determined despite setbacks. Greg Hassel divulged that before transitioning from teaching to marketing, he wished he knew how often you get rejections and hear “no.” Refusals aren’t uncommon in this industry and it’s crucial to remain positive because, as Greg observed, “At some point, you will find someone out there interested in what you have to say.” Bill added that it’s important to be “willing and ready to adapt to when things don’t go your way.”

Can you share a piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in this industry?

The communications industry is vast, making it easy to become overwhelmed by potential career paths and opportunities. Fortunately, the knowledgeable and passionate individuals I work with have been able to clarify exactly what someone like me needs to know about launching their professional life in marketing.

Perhaps the biggest piece of advice colleagues imparted was to be curious:

  • “Get really comfortable with not knowing things, asking questions and remaining open to learning.” – Kelly McIntosh
  • “Say yes to opportunities to test different things and be open to diversifying your skillset” – Bill Braun
  • “Be a sponge. Even with experience, PR is always evolving so don’t be afraid of the unknown or known” – Greg Hassel

Many also shared the importance of having confidence in your voice and abilities:

  • “Find your voice and be true to that. Having confidence and authenticity as a writer or content creator is really important and what shines through” – Sean Hojnacki
  • “Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and push yourself to do what’s most beneficial for you” – Erica Fisher

Commitment was another must-have:

  • “Openness to growth is maybe the most helpful thing to carry with you in any interaction or professional setting” – Sean Hojnacki
  • “Stay organized and read a lot, so when you’re pitching to someone you have the knowledge of who they are and their writing interests.” – Emma Hitchcock
  • “The more you get into the practice of reaching out when you need help, the easier it’s going be.” – Kelly McIntosh

What’s an example of personal growth you’ve experienced during your time in the communications field?

At the end of each interview with my colleagues, I encouraged them to talk more about their individual experiences. Different jobs provide different lessons and moments of growth, so I wanted to know what they have learned about themselves since becoming marketing professionals.

Annah emphasized the importance of networking and creating relationships in this field. She added, “Being able to recognize my own value and then share that with my clients has been a valuable lesson.” Working as a team is another crucial skill to have in this industry. Almost every project will consist of collaboration. Kelly noted, “Becoming a team player was a big accomplishment for me. I always thought that I preferred independent work but being a part of a team gives you so many opportunities to foster innovation.”

Taking advantage of feedback from colleagues is a great way to improve your work and skills, which both Erica and Sean mentioned. “I became open to feedback, growth, and learning. There will be challenges every day, but there are always opportunities to learn something new and improve,” Sean said. “Try and learn from your teammates, colleagues, and clients as well. I try and uplift others too, calling people out when they do something positive.”

These insights have better equipped me – and hopefully you – to become a successful marketing professional with the appropriate mindset.

By Sophia Fernandez

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.