Think only sales people have to deal with rejection on a daily basis? Nope, there are plenty of other jobs out there that require you to develop a thick skin and get used to hearing the word “no” (or just a big, fat, empty silence) pretty regularly. But it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes a “no” can teach you something valuable about a potential client, customer, or contact. And sometimes it can teach you a valuable skill like resilience or problem-solving.
Just ask Holly Glover, Social Analyst & Marketing Strategist at Just Drive Media. We asked Holly to share the scoop on the ups and downs of working in PR and constantly reaching out to people who may reject or ignore you.
Where did you go to school and what did you major in?
I majored in Advertising at Michigan State University, where I graduated in spring 2011.
What initially attracted you to the field of public relations?
My path to public relations began through my interest in advertising, where I was drawn to the mix of creative thinking and business strategy. I’ve always enjoyed art, and I found this field to be a good way to apply that interest and exercise both sides of my brain.
What is a typical day on the job like for you?
At Just Drive Media we all work from home and live throughout the US, so my day is somewhat unique compared to working at a traditional agency. The first thing I do every morning is sign onto Skype, which we use as our virtual office with different chats and group calls set up for clients and projects. This is especially helpful since our team spans several time zones. I start my day by catching up on news, blogs, and any stories from our media targets.
Day-to-day tasks vary based on whether clients have any upcoming announcements or launches, and typically include research, developing stories, pitching media, and tracking coverage. Social analysis and reporting also makes up a big part of my day, which involves looking at what people are saying about a certain topic across Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and forums. We then analyze those conversations and uncover what’s driving positive and negative opinions.
How does your college major relate to what you’re doing now?
After graduating in advertising, I worked at a digital marketing agency doing SEO, SEM, and content marketing. My role at JDM started with social analysis and strategy and evolved into also doing PR. These roles go hand-in-hand nicely, as in a nutshell marketing is made up of three types of media; paid (advertisements), earned (public relation placements), and owned (a company’s own social channels).
What are some essential skills you think every person needs to work in PR?
Public relations is based on relationships, so it’s important to know whom the right people are to reach out to and what’s relevant to them. Taking the time to do your homework and research the landscape you’re targeting is necessary for setting that foundation. Having strong storytelling and writing skills is essential, as you need to sell the news to your targets and quickly show why it’s a good fit for their audience.
I think persistence is also key in public relations. Not everyone is going to respond to you (and many sometimes don’t), so figuring out why and developing your pitches and storylines accordingly can really pay off in the end.
Can you give an example of a time you saw a company handle PR very well and/or really poorly?
While not always PR-focused, my coworkers and I like to share and learn from ways companies use social media both successfully and not-so-successfully. At the end of 2013, we put together a list of our favorite wins and fails of the year here—including campaigns from JP Morgan, Turkish Airlines and Water is Life. Some of the PR successes came from identifying and leveraging influencers across different niches, and fails often involved being self-serving and promotional rather than truly understanding an audience.
What are your favorite parts about working in PR?
I soak up news like a sponge, and am constantly reading articles and blogs. I enjoy following reporters and media to stay on top of what they’re writing about, and then finding ways that our clients would be of interest to them. The best placements are usually the ones that aren’t necessarily an obvious fit at first, but have a natural interest to their readers. Staying on top of what’s on a reporter’s radar is my favorite way to do this.
What are the most challenging parts of working in this field?
Just like in sales, rejection is pretty common, and not taking it personally when that happens can be challenging. Instead of getting discouraged, finding out why you got shot down (or ignored) is extremely useful for getting back in front of that reporter and developing something that they’ll be more likely to write about in the future.
What advice do you have for students hoping to enter this industry?
The marketing and public relations industry has many different areas to specialize and work in, so don’t be afraid to expand your skill set and find out what you’re most passionate and interested in. There are endless resources to take advantage of and learn from in this industry. Having initiative and an eagerness to grow can be one of your biggest assets.
Homework time! If you’re interested in working in PR, review Holly’s list of wins and fails of 2013. Start compiling your own list and the reasons a particular campaign or initiative worked or didn’t work. You can use this as a conversation point in future job interviews—and potentially impress employers with your initiative!
Want to hear more from Holly? Follow her on Twitter: @hollydglover