5 Things I Wish I Knew Then… My Advice to Young PR/Marketing & Advertising Professionals – Birmingham AMA – Connect. Learn. Grow.

by Candie A. Price

You’ve just graduated, proud of your accomplishment of completing your degree in communications, marketing or advertising! You graduated summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude or just plain “Help me Lawd!” But you made it! You’ve either just landed your first job or you are on pins and needles waiting to hear back from the firm of your dreams! You are ready, eager and prepared to show that you know what you’re doing! You’ve got fresh ideas, you listened in class and you’re excited to begin this new journey into the life of a PR, Marketing or Advertising professional! What could I possibly tell you that would help you on your journey from student to professional?

My advice to you isn’t about USP’s, KPI’s, media buying or digital marketing plans.  The advice I’ve penned can be targeted to any young professional on any career path.  These are the things that I’ve learned throughout the years that have helped me not just professionally, but in life.

I’ve had plenty of hurdles to overcome, but my mother gave me the one piece of advice that has pushed me to achieve: “Nothing beats a failure, but a try!”  Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan are among a multitude of famous people who have had their share of failures before becoming successful innovators and leaders in their fields.  I have had many moments when I followed my mother’s advice without flinching, like moving thousands and thousands of miles away from family or friends, or starting not one but two businesses, but there were also times when I didn’t take that advice and succumbed to the fear of failure and now live with the “what ifs.”  I heard Jen Barnett, a local entrepreneur, say in a TEDxBirmingham talk, “What’s the worst that could happen?”  Sometimes failure brings you face to face with what you were destined to do! Don’t be afraid to fail! Stand upright, click those heels twice if you have to, and take a leap!

 I really wish someone had told me a long time ago to know my worth before I interviewed for jobs; it would have saved me a lot of time and horrible job experiences!  Research your field based on your job description and not necessarily your title.  When you are compensated for your skills, knowledge and experience appropriately, you will not only be a more confident and productive employee, but you will enjoy your job a lot more.  I will add that you need to make sure that you are producing at a high level and proving that you are valuable to your employer.  No one owes you anything – work hard, have an outstanding work ethos and prove what you believe you are worth.

Find a mentor! A mentor will be your guide to reason and knowledge beyond your years and your access to contacts that could be influential in your career.  Mentors have been there and done that, they’ve got the battle scars and the successes; and, more often than not, they are looking for young individuals to impart their years of wisdom to.  If you can find at least two business people willing to mentor you, you’ve hit the jackpot!

For a living you will work with brands; you will represent individuals and companies and give them countless hours of advice on how to effectively promote and market their brand.  However, don’t forget one very important thing – YOU are YOUR brand.  Yes, your employer will be the brand you work for, but building your own personal brand is something that you will do throughout your entire career, no matter where you work.  I saw a photo recently that said, “Your brand is what others say about you when you are not in the room!” What will others say about you when you leave the room? Will they say that you are a consummate professional or that you’re a slacker? Will they say you genuinely care about doing well at your job or will they say you are just out for a paycheck? Remember that at every event you attend, every meeting you are summoned to, every interaction with a client or co-worker is representative of the brand that is YOU! #youareyourbrand!

  1. Strive for balance in your life

The world of PR, marketing and advertising can be very hectic and extremely busy.  Whether you are preparing for a client’s big product launch, pitching to the media, or creating a marketing or advertising campaign, it’s a busy field.  If you don’t remember anything else, remember that you have a life outside of your job with family and loved ones who care about you.  When you’re off, be off – stop checking the phone every two minutes, get off the twitterfeed, and enjoy the human interactions with others around you.

I could go on and on about lessons I’ve learned throughout the years, but I hope that you will at least remember these 5 tips as you begin your career. Here’s to your success!

Candie A. Price is the CEO/Chief PR & Marketing Strategist/Branding Coach at Priceless PR & Marketing Consulting (www.yourprdiva.com). She provides public relations, marketing services, and social media training to Christian authors, entrepreneurs, artists, and churches. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Email Candie at [email protected] and check out her new blog, “Philly Girl In the South!”