My first year in the Public Relations profession

Zach Drennan headshot
Zach Drennan

It was June 24, 2019 — my first day coming to work for Pioneer Strategies. Right away I was introduced to my office, complete with a spacious desk, business cards and the most essential tools of the trade: a computer and phone. It’s hard to believe that was almost a year ago!

Starting off, I was surprised to learn just how visual public relations work is, even on small-scale projects. I had assumed my days would consist mainly of interfacing with clients, communication planning and writing, but found that graphic work and video have become a major part of what I do. Currently my work seems to be split somewhat evenly between copywriting, video editing, web design, graphic design and then distributing all of the above. What started off years ago as creative hobbies has really come to fruition. I’ve become fairly proficient with creative work, and it’s something that I really enjoy doing (with lots and lots of practice still to come).  

When people think of PR, they typically think of the more technical aspects: writing news releases, dealing with the media, managing social media, and so on. I think some of the most critical skills have less to do with those things and more to do with how you communicate with clients about their communication. I would say the biggest lessons I’ve learned are the importance of (a) keeping people in the loop and (b) being proactive and following up.

When I’m watching TV shows I often find myself thinking: “They could fix this problem so much quicker if they’d just explain it to each other.” Making sure everyone involved in a process is on the same page minimizes hiccups and the time needed to recap things that have already been covered. Ultimately, it’s a huge part of getting work done quickly and efficiently, and it’s one people tend to forget about. Whether it’s your manager, your colleagues, a client or other parties involved in a project, establishing open lines of communication can make life a whole lot easier. It could be as simple as cc’ing people on an email to give context or making a phone call to check in periodically during a project.

The other half of the equation is being proactive and following up. For your work to really stand out, you need to give a little extra effort. Of course, it’s important to do what you’re asked to by your clients and managers, but bringing new ideas to the table and seizing opportunities when they appear is a necessity in PR.

Following up is as important as ever in today’s fast-paced business and media environment. Phones are always buzzing; inboxes are overflowing and clients have their own set of priorities each and every day. It’s easy for your questions and requests for a client to get buried within few minutes. When things are time sensitive (and they usually are), reaching out ahead of time and pressing until you get what you need instead of just waiting makes the difference when you’re trying to meet a deadline.

These two skill sets, while not necessarily the first ones to come to mind with public relations, are essential to getting started in PR. Couple them with relentless time management and you’ll be paving the road for success.

When I think back, this job has been filled with firsts: my first PR conference, my first time creating a real logo from scratch, my first time building a website, and definitely my first time sending an email to 20,000 people at once. New experiences are what make you grow, and I have a new experience almost every day. With that, I’m looking forward to things to come and am proud to be a part of the Pioneer Strategies team.

Zach Drennan