Starting my first PR Job at the Beginning of a Pandemic

Emma Ericksen

Starting a new job in the PR field, while anticipating my college graduation, was an adventure in itself, so throwing a global pandemic into the mix really made things interesting. At the beginning of March, during the week of the last spring break of my college career, I started a new position as a Public Relations Assistant at Pioneer Strategies. Because I was so excited about the opportunity, I wasn’t the slightest bit upset about my spring break destination being a brand-new office desk rather than a tropical oasis. Little did I know that week would be the end of my freedom for three months. 

My new job didn’t take my freedom; COVID-19 did. I worked in the office for less than a month when we transitioned to working from home. While I was trying to learn the routine and responsibilities of my new job, I was also having to navigate all of it from home, where my desk is sometimes my dresser, my chair is a footrest, and I have two roommates lying around with a whole lot of nothing to do. 

Just as I was becoming accustomed to my daily routine, which included learning how to draft press releases and newsletters and effectively navigating and posting to social media accounts, I quickly had to adapt and shift my focus to the unique issues our clients were facing due to the coronavirus crisis. My morning routine turned into reading articles about COVID-19 and posting updates to our clients’ social media accounts. Given the unusual circumstances we were all dealing with, a lot of the topics being discussed at work were what we were discussing at home as well.

In spite of the incredibly difficult and uncertain circumstances we are all facing, this crisis has been a learning experience for me professionally. Because we’ve all had to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances, I’ve gained experience in crisis management and I’ve learned more about how to react to evolving events than I would have otherwise. These are lessons I will be able to apply throughout my career, but it’s unfortunate they’re lessons learned through the suffering of others. 

The other day, while watching TV with a friend, a car company aired a commercial in response to the COVID-19 crisis. My friend said she didn’t like how people were using the pandemic to brand their companies and it changed her feelings towards that company. I thought this was an interesting comment, especially since I saw it from such a different point of view.  What I saw were the positive things these companies have been doing to take action and to show their support for their customers and our communities. 

Having only worked in the office for a month before working from home, I am extremely excited to get back into the office and to regain a sense of normalcy and structure within my days. I’m sure I’m not alone in that desire. If it weren’t for the company and team that I was so fortunate to have joined, my first job in the midst of a global pandemic could have begun very differently and might have come to an unexpected, abrupt end.

Luckily, I continue to be excited about going to work every morning, even if for right now that means just going from my bed to my makeshift desk. For the most part, the transition into working from home has been a breeze. My boss and coworkers are constantly in touch with me and are always accessible. My questions are answered almost as quickly as when we were in the same office, and we have adapted well to Zoom meetings to establish daily and weekly priorities that help keep us on track. Twenty years from now I will remember my first PR job very vividly, not only because it began at the same time as the global COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of the company I am fortunate to be working with and the tools I will have gained going forward. 

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Emma Ericksen

Emma Ericksen is a Public Relations Assistant with Pioneer Strategies. She is a 2020 graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.