I’ve had the pleasure of working for a few companies before starting my own, and each one has taught me something valuable about business and how public relations work hand in hand.
The best lesson I’ve learned to date is simply to be honest. Brutally honest.
The initial moment will sting, but it will wear off. Your company or your client deserve to hear your best thoughts and will come to appreciate them over time. In the first internships I held, I was modest and afraid to speak up. I went along with ideas I wasn’t sure about and put my conscience on the back burner. This resulted in a loss for the company and ultimately, a loss for myself.
Everyone will face controversial issues, hard times, hard decisions and competition– you have to know how to handle yourself when these come up. You may not have the answer, but developing a course of action to get you there is crucial.
First, tell your company/client to relinquish the power. They have done a great job doing what they know best but they hired you or your agency for a reason. You are the expert in your field and you have authority on the subject matter. I’ve been in a few positions where execs feel the need to control every detail and micromanage. This creates a barrier in the workplace and stifles creativity. Take a little time to establish yourself in the role and then push forward and earn the respect of your employer. Assert yourself as the lead and show initiative so your boss or client will trust you and let go of the control.
Second, keep in mind that entitlement is a slippery slope. While asserting yourself is important, being aggressive about it isn’t. Remember: people like confidence, not arrogance.
Third course of action: Give R-E-S-P-E-C-T
It’s not handed out for free, it’s earned. You have to give respect to your boss, your clients, your colleagues and most importantly, those who came before you. Being tech-savvy is important but don’t forget the principles that founded public relations. Each generation had new innovations and learned to adapt and prosper with the knowledge available to them.
Fourth, always do your best to inform and educate when possible. Being a thought leader will establish trust and the power to be outspoken. Just remember, you may not be the expert all the time, so relying on other sources doesn’t show weakness, it exemplifies resourcefulness.
Lastly, take the time to do adequate research. Sure, a few hours of research may wrap your head around a concept, but how do you expect to compete if you aren’t well informed yourself? Where you falter, others will rise. Identify your weaknesses and make them just as important to handle as your strengths.
What courses of action do you think are necessary to become an authority? What have you learned as best practices in the workplace? What issues have you had establishing your place in the company?