I have seen myself giving one advice to communication professionals with 1-3 years of work experience – ‘give it five years’. From my experience, especially in the Indian context, I believe that a communication consultant should at least give this much time to this profession.
I remember, when I was in the first two years of my career, a lot of my peers dropped the idea of pursuing a career in communications. The chief reason – they did not think they were adding value and hence could not understand how the future will look like. In my case, thankfully I was a part of a great team, a wonderful client and superb bosses. Although I was not completely sure how much I was adding value but my bosses did make me feel valuable.
While it is very important for senior team members and educational institutes to point a PR professional’s contribution to the business; it is equally important for young professionals to be patient. Hopefully, in time they will realize the following things:
- We are not delivery boys/girls of press releases:
Younger PR professionals often do not understand why they are sending a press release to the media and following up for it. They are just told by their seniors that this is what is sent and you need to follow-up with the recipients to check if they got it. They are not explained the context, the thought process and how it will impact the business they are supporting. They are also not thoroughly coached as to what to talk about, and as a result these calls are hardly ever meaningful. To a new professional, the understanding of how a press release is contributing to the overall goal comes with some years of experience in the business.
- We are a strong support to the business:
Communications professionals, internal or external are a great support to the business. It is imperative for PR folks to understand this. The job becomes easier if they have a smart business leader who understands and recognizes the value they bring to the table. A communications expert does a lot of good work, and overtime they learn the art of packaging their work in a way that highlights the value they get to the table.
- We have a view of the business and access to the business leaders that most people in the organisation do not have:
This is my favorite part. Whether you are working as a communication support within the corporate or you are a part of an external PR firm; as a PR professional you have bird eye view of the business. Having that view helps you build a great understanding of the company and the industry you are in. You are automatically better equipped than most people in the company with important information. As a communication consultant, one also has an access to the business leaders which employees in other profiles typically get at 10-15 years of working. In my first job, within two years of working I had meaningful business interactions with global marketing heads, business unit heads and other leaders of well-known technology companies.
- Money will come:
It is a known fact that the pay cheque of a PR professional in the initial years of their career, stands nowhere as compared to an MBA or an engineering graduate. In my case, I spent much more on my living expenses than what I ended up earning in the first few years. That was ok, and I acknowledge that I was lucky to be able to do that. However the state of your bank account does not remain the same throughout your career. Once you have crossed the five to seven year mark and you have proved your mettle, money comes.
- Variety of work we can do:
Communications as a career is not only fast changing and keeps you on your toes, but is also highly creative. Communications is not just press releases and media interactions in today’s scenario. As a PR consultant you are also touching the dynamic world of digital media which includes highly creative mediums of communication like social media. You are also exposed to working with various stakeholders, depending on the business you are in. In my case, in the span of my six years I have already worked with stakeholders like media, bloggers, technology analysts, women entrepreneurs, college students, Corp Comm & PR firm heads, PR academicians, business leaders among others.
I hope this blog rings a bell with every ‘new hire’ or a ‘to be hire’ who is reading this viewpoint. I also sincerely hope that you give a fair chance to your careers in communications. If you have given a fair chance, and you feel that this is not what you are cut out to do; then you always have the option of doing something else. The beauty of this profession is that by the time you decide to move on, you would have already learnt a lot of things. This knowledge will help you do whatever you are doing a little better, and have an edge over the others.
– Radhika Nandwani
Radhika Nandwani is the Corporate Communication Advisor at Performance Analytics Group, Dell Inc. She has six years of experience in communications. Radhika started her career in 2011 with one of the leading PR firms in India – MSLGROUP, specialising in handling communications for technology clients. The campaigns executed by her while at MSL, have won several PR awards. Previous to Dell Inc., she was the founding team member and the marketing communications manager at ‘School of COmmunications & REputation (SCoRe)’ She can be reached at @RadhikaNandwani on Twitter and here on LinkedIn