Woman and man writing on whiteboard, Expertise Sector, WE Communications

Lessons Would-Be PR Pros Should Know

— Sophia Lee, WE 

WE San FranciscoLast week, WE San Francisco hosted public relations (PR) students from California State University, Chico, giving them a glimpse into the industry. WE organized four panels that included junior, mid-level and senior agency staff as well as in-house pros from AT&T, Uber and Dropbox. 

Panelists shared their best advice on a variety of topics – from succeeding as an intern and receiving a full-time offer to achieving that elusive work-life balance. The students, curious and alert, peppered panelists with thoughtful questions. Below are three key takeaways from our conversation:

  1. PR pros wear many hats: This isn’t news to anyone who has spent time in the industry. However, the students were surprised by the extent of the many hats description. When asked the simple question “what does your day-to-day look like?” WE’s junior staff provided responses that ranged from rubbing elbows with top-tier reporters, to organizing an event for the LGBTQ community, to managing a corporate Twitter account. Likewise, the PR pro from Dropbox spent nine years on the agency side prior to her current role but said it felt like she held four different jobs in that time. This constant evolution in roles, clients and responsibilities keeps our profession exciting.
  2. Voice your opinion: People new to their careers often make the mistake of not speaking up enough. It’s easy for folks fresh out of college to feel like they don’t have the knowledge or experience to provide value to their teams, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why panelists consistently advised students to voice their opinions. Whether it’s raising a hand to work on a new project or pitching in during a brainstorm, WE staff emphasized the importance of making your voice heard and the crucial role that plays in shaping your career.
  3. Self-awareness is key: Regardless of whether it’s in an agency or in-house setting, all panelists agreed on the importance of self-awareness. On a professional level, the PR pros from Uber and AT&T pointed out that it’s important to be honest with yourself and understand your likes and dislikes in order to get the most out of your career. On a personal level, WE’s senior staff recommended regular check-ins with yourself to make sure you’re in good health and not feeling overworked. Being unaware of these things can lead to an unfulfilling career or burn out.

This panel event was a fantastic experience for both the San Francisco office and [we hope!] the students of California State University, Chico. After interacting with this smart group of soon-to-be PR pros, WE can confidently say that the future of the industry looks bright.


Connect with the author, Sophia Lee, on Twitter.