Each month we have been reaching out to notable communications professionals to ask them a few questions about their experiences and interests, with the goal of providing some insights to others in the industry. For our latest edition of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’ we spoke with Michelle Garrett, PR consultant, strategist, and award-winning writer.
You’ve had quite the career – 17 years of running your own business! What is one mistake you’ve made during your PR career and what did you learn from it?
Thank you! Yes, when I started out on my own, I didn’t know if I’d even make it a year. Of course, you fear failure. But, it’s worked out to be the best career move I ever made.
One mistake I made when I was younger was having an attitude. I didn’t fully appreciate opportunities that came my way—or those who brought me the opportunities. I regret not treating them with the appreciation I should have.
From that, I’ve learned to try to remember that anyone who brings us opportunities to work—be it freelance work or a full-time job—should be shown the appreciation they deserve. If they were thinking of you and sent an opportunity your way, you need to let them know you genuinely appreciate it. How you do that is up to you—a thank you note or email, taking them out for lunch, sending them a Starbucks card or perhaps even remembering to refer work to them—but be sure to let them know how much it means to you.
Having said that, it now turns me off when I run into those who have an attitude in the business world. I see what an unattractive quality that is in others. It’s too bad that when it’s happening, people don’t always recognize it in themselves.
How do you continuously come up with topics for blog posts? Do you have a brainstorming process?
Ideas just come to me. I draw ideas from my day-to-day interaction with journalists and with clients. There’s so much material there! Some good—some not so good.
I try to take a practical approach to blog posts. I think about what advice might be helpful to those in the trenches. We all make mistakes, but if we try to improve and nail the basics, it will help us get further.
What advice do you have for new PR professionals trying to break into the industry?
Be a strong writer. No matter what area of PR you end up specializing in, writing is vitally important. The best way to gain writing experience and to improve is, of course, to write. So, if you feel that you need more experience, look for opportunities to do more writing. It could be asking your boss for more writing assignments, or it could mean that you write outside of work. Even writing your own blog gives you experience. Or maybe you’re part of an industry organization who needs volunteers. For example, I’m on the board of my AMA chapter and we always need help producing content—we look to volunteers for that.
Speaking of industry organizations, join one—and get involved. There’s PRSA, AMA, IABC, and so many others. I wrote an article about it for PR Daily. You’ll meet so many people who can help you in your career. If you’re open to volunteering, you can gain great experience that will make you a better-rounded PR pro. Those are just a couple of reasons to join. The benefits are many.
Thank you, Michelle!
Have a story you would like to share? Let us know on Twitter at @PRTheAgency or in the comment section below!