5 Steps to Fast Track Your PR Growth and Leadership Prowess
Earlier this week, I had the chance to attend an event organized by the PR Council’s SHEQUALITY project and led by industry powerhouses Barri Rafferty, President of Ketchum Worldwide, and Karen van Bergen, CEO of the Omnicom Public Relations Group.
The PR Council’s SHEQUALITY project is rooted in the concept of sending the elevator back down, so to speak, and connecting blossoming PR pros with women in leadership who have been in their shoes before. The goal is to influence equality in the senior ranks of the public relations and communications world, and shine a light on the issues impacting women in the workplace.
Throughout the session, both Barri and Karen shared the wisdom they gained along their careers in both agency and in-house roles. They credited much of their success to the big opportunities and challenging hurdles along the way, but most importantly, they recognized the influence and importance of the mentors that guided them throughout their journeys.
The session was full of advice, anecdotes and actionable steps that have since inspired me and readjusted my perspective on my own career as I continue rising through the ranks here at CooperKatz. Young women (and men) across all agencies and in-house roles could also benefit from the following words of advice from Barri and Karen.
1) Be yourself and don’t apologize for it
We’ve heard this before from everyone from our family members, to our teachers, to our professional supervisors — but it is unequivocally important to be your best and truest self foremost. The panelists agreed — being yourself will save you the heartache of adjusting your personality to fit a mold or biting your tongue when you should actually speak up, and it will show your colleagues and mentors who you really are at your core. Most importantly, remember not to apologize for being yourself or speaking up. This will help you gain a seat at the table.
2) Find mentors
While we’ve all acquired mentors and people ‘in our corner’ throughout our careers, Barri underscored the importance of having a robust bench of mentors. She recalled an instance where having a male mentor opened her eyes up to certain things that a female mentor wouldn’t have and vice versa. She also noted that reverse mentorship is equally important as you continue moving into leadership positions. This will keep you true to yourself and in-the-know about the latest trends.
3) Never doubt yourself when big moments arise
When Karen was offered the chance to run her own office at the age of 25, she leapt at the chance knowing that there was no turning back. She admits there were moments of uncertainty and tough decision-making, but she followed her gut to get the work done. She noted that if you raise your hand to try something new, it might feel scary, and you might stumble, but if you are confident in your abilities throughout the process you’ll learn to trust yourself more.
4) Learn to love the numbers
As PR pros, we see ourselves as more ‘right-brained’ and creative because, at the end of the day, we’re wordsmiths, brainstormers and storytellers. Both Barri and Karen agreed that you will need to get more in-tune with the business side of public relations, especially as the nature of our industry changes. Their advice? Listen to earnings calls, read financial reports, ask your supervisors for chances to review account budgets (if appropriate) and start thinking strategically.
5) Remember: Feedback is a gift
Admittedly, feedback is tough whether you’re on the giving or receiving side. When receiving it, remember that feedback is intended to be valuable, not hurtful. Feedback gives you an inside look at what your supervisors and peers think will make you a more successful and thoughtful leader. Equipped with these bits of advice, you can apply your lessons learned immediately and accelerate your career progression.
Stay tuned for the next SHEQUALITY event on November 14th titled Big Little Truths and Lies, which will be led by CooperKatz’s very own Anne Green!