I received a desperate email from a friend looking for PR help with an event she is working on. I told her that I would help with no problem. Her response was, “You are always there for me.” Interesting she felt that way because this is someone that has always been there for me. Six years ago, I was on the Internet, believe it or not, looking for a mentor. I was determined to find someone that had an impressive career record and to be honest, an email address or phone number I could use. There she was; my mentor.
My newly found mentor had over 10 years of experience in Sports PR and since has started her own PR firm. I emailed her and within a few hours she emailed me back and was nicer than ever. Since then, she has encouraged me during my lay off days. Had lunch and dinner with me so I wouldn’t eat alone and most of all gave me the best advice in life lessons and career. Over the years, I have had several mentors and have discovered that Mentorship has been a vital organ to my career as a PR professional. Finding an experienced professional, one who you trust to help work through a situation or guide you in your career could be the missing puzzle piece of your success.
These are the three things that my mentors have taught me to remember as a PR professional:
Work Life Balance
I can’t think of the last time I didn’t work on the weekend or answer my cellphone after 5pm. As a PR professional, it seems like we are always on the clock. Taking a break from work can make you a more effective and engaged professional. Everyone should unplug from work and focus on other activities that bring them joy. One mentor told me to “Do what you can, but don’t overdo it.”
Navigating Work Situations
If you have ever had a situation pop up in your professional life that you weren’t sure how to handle, talking with a senior leader or someone you look up to at the office could be a great way to solicit feedback and help you find a solution. You will not like everyone and everyone will not like you. That is hard to do when you have a job to do. Always keeping clients is not a bad idea, but in the work environment you must remind others you all have a job to do. One of my mentors once told me no matter what, keep my cool and that my boss will notice that I handled a very difficult situation with professionalism.
Advancing on Your Career Path
When you have opportunities to express interest in joining a project and sharing your ideas with organization leadership take the chance and don’t look back. Having a mentor can help you define an effective strategy to help you stand out within your company. While your ideas may not make the final cut, people will notice that you are thinking, and working hard. You’ll soon realize that by speaking up, you are also advancing your career. My very first mentor told me never stay at a job too long. Explore new opportunities when I can.
Want a mentor?
Interested in finding a mentor? PRSA-NCC has a Mentoring Program lead by Fred Whiting, APR. PRSA-NCC matches young PR practitioners with seasoned professionals who provide guidance on job searches, professional development, ethics, and other interests. Since 2004, the mentoring program has matched more than 100 protégés and mentors. Participants find the program well worth their time.
About the Author
Tiffany Young is the manager of public relations for American Public University System. She has more than seven years of experience in media relations, event management, and public relations. She earned a certificate in Public Relations from the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies and received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University. You can find her on Twitter @SocialPRLady.