Feb 19, 2019 / in Comms Best Practices / by Kayla Matthews

As you set New Year's resolutions, did it become evident that furthering your public relations career was one of the main themes?

If so, that's not surprising since the PR sector can be exceptionally competitive. By focusing on career growth, you could become eligible for promotions, increase your self-confidence and be seen favorably by your colleagues. You may even find that you’re your goal-oriented mindset opens up options for becoming a mentor at your company.

Here are six actionable things you can do to push your work-based achievements to a higher level this year.

1. Work on Your Confidence

No matter how long you've worked in PR, one of your primary and constant goals is to get people to believe in what you promote. That often means delivering a pitch with the utmost confidence, whether you communicate through writing or speech.

Consider getting a friend to give you candid feedback as you outline the benefits of a product or service. Tell that individual to focus on the number of times you stammer, whether you make eye contact and the general pace of your words.

You could also bring virtual reality (VR) into the picture. A company called VirtualSpeech offers simulated environments for people in sales or PR, such as meeting rooms or press conferences. There's also an app that analyzes your voice and gives feedback. You can even enable a distraction mode to get you accustomed to keeping your cool in challenging settings.

In your writing, scrutinize the work for words that could convey doubt or uncertainty, such as “might.”  Also, stop beginning sentences with “in my opinion.” The fact that you’re composing the piece implies that what you write is what you believe.

Finally, use a tool like Grammarly or Hemingway to check your writing for overly complex sentences, which could cause readers to lose sight of your main idea.

2. Understand What Makes People Become Brand Advocates

There's a growing interest in the digital marketing community regarding how to make employees and customers become advocates for a brand. If that happens, you can theoretically spend less time engaging in some of the activities that once occupied your schedule and devote more minutes to things that further your career.

More specifically, having customers as brand advocates can bring momentum to your campaign and contribute to promotion by doing things such as putting posts on social media — especially if you run contests or have rewards programs that encourage people to get involved.

You won’t stop spending time on internally driven promotional efforts altogether, of course, but having customers who are brand advocates means other people are helping to distribute brand messaging on your behalf, especially if there are incentives involved.

In contrast, if you lead a team of fellow marketers, it's crucial to behave in ways that encourage those employees to become natural brand advocates, especially on social media. Think about setting a social media policy to build trust with them, then scheduling training to help company representatives understand how their public actions reflect positively or negatively on the company.

If you get colleagues on board like that, your career could be on the rise — especially if superiors see you're an excellent fit for an upcoming promotion.

3. Focus on Professional Development

A day in the life of a PR professional typically involves some broad activities such as communicating with stakeholders, crafting messages and using tech tools to help content spread. However, 2019 be the year when you capitalize on tasks that further your professional development.

For example, there are several Google Ads certifications individuals can earn, and those could help you demonstrate competency. Additionally, think about spending your free time by getting engrossed in business books and catching up on the latest news from relevant blog subscriptions.

Webinars can also be advantageous because they allow you to learn and collaborate with others online without having to travel.

4. Submit Your Press Releases to PR Wire Services

Showcasing your competency as a PR professional means giving notable updates a far and wide reach. After all, companies in your immediate community are the only entities that know about the latest happenings, you'll have trouble gaining momentum with your work.

Plan to send your press releases to PR wire services like Cision PR Newswire. Then, they'll get increased exposure, and more people could notice you're an outstanding PR professional with a career that's going places. One of the primary benefits of sending press releases to wire services is that those entities already have established contacts with newsrooms and other content distributors, whereas you likely don’t have such a vast network built up yet.

5. Be Ready to Leave Old Methods Behind

You'll inevitably find that career growth directly connects to your willingness to explore new techniques and tricks for working with maximum effectiveness.

According to the 2018 International Association for Measurement and Evaluation (AMEC) Global Insights Study, 83 percent of the worldwide respondents — which included PR agencies — agreed it was time to rethink the basic strategies they've depended on for years.

Otherwise, it might be impossible to overcome current challenges disrupting the PR sector, such as the rise of fake news. As a start, you could become a modern communicator by implementing an earned media management strategy.

You already know how to tell a rich story to audiences, but now it’s time to use engaging, multimedia-filled experiences and smart audience engagement techniques to create content that’s individualized to cater to precise audiences.

Moreover, 61 percent of AMEC members use artificial intelligence (AI) in their work, and 2019 could be when you adopt the same strategy.

Think about doing that by partially relying on AI to help with things like forecasting and natural language processing when evaluating the sentiments and pain points of prospects or current customers. A combination of AI and data analysis could tell you things like the best times of day to post social media content or which phrases get the most favorable responses from particular age groups.

Regardless of if you give AI a try or start developing a campaign that engages customers with virtual reality (VR), realize that embracing new ways of doing your work could help your career prosper.

6. Make the Most of the Conferences You Attend

PR gatherings give you opportunities to mingle with other professionals and gain new perspectives. Events happen throughout the year and around the world, but your schedule may only allow for adding a few to your calendar.

With that in mind, strive to seek out ways to get the most benefits from every event and never miss out on chances to build connections with others.

While you're at a conference, career growth opportunities could arise when you chat to a fellow marketer over coffee during a break in the agenda. Or, you might realize the key to career growth becomes evident once you hear the perspectives of an on-point, polished keynote speaker.

Since most of these conferences feature exhibition halls full of brands showing off the latest tech developments, they could provide the motivation you need to act on the point above and go through an evolution that incorporates new options rather than only the tried-and-true ones.

Furthering Your Career Is an Intention Within Reach

These tips offer a roadmap for ensuring your PR career doesn't become stagnant in 2019. Growth helps you remain relevant, and it allows you to stay abreast of developments in the field. If you get complacent at your current level, you won’t feel challenged to evolve. As a result, your superiors may conclude you’re merely going through the motions and not pushing yourself to excel.

Career growth will also lead to greater personal satisfaction, as it allows you to achieve things you might not have thought possible without putting forth the effort. You can get started along the path to betterment with these six suggestions.

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About Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews writes about branding and digital marketing for websites like Convince and Convert, The Daily Muse and VICE. You can learn more about Kayla and her brands here.