How to Survive Your First Year at a High-Tech PR Agency

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Michiko Morales

A lot can change over the course of a year. You become a year older, a year wiser, you may gain – or hopefully lose – ten pounds, you could retire or you could graduate and begin a new job. That’s where I found myself a year ago. Fresh out of college (go Hokies) ready to take on the real world. As much as I knew, or liked to believe I knew, how to prepare myself for a job at a high tech PR firm, I found that you aren’t truly ready until you dive face first into the job.

Last time I wrote about entering the real world was right before my five-month anniversary working at one of the country’s fastest-growing tech PR firms specializing in high growth technologies. And while I’m still just as, if not more, in love with Gabriel Marketing Group (GMG), there is even more to be said about working in the world that I do. So buckle up, I’m about to give you a crash course in surviving your first year in high-tech public relations.

It’s Not All Apps

Like any job in public relations, you will be doing a lot of researching, writing and pitching. And if you happen to be living the agency life, this will require you to be able to do so for a variety of different clients. To do the best that you can, you have to understand each client, as their own.

Some may think that because you’re involved in “tech PR” all of your clients are basically the same – app developing companies that I can access on my smartphone. WRONG. They can be an unique cash back shopping site, could specialize in residential and commercial drainage or maybe even make paying your bar tab a breeze. The point is every client is different and when pitching or writing about them, you need to understand their ins and outs. It goes far beyond knowing what your client does. You need to know their tone, their goals, their audience and what they see themselves to be. This will help you target the right media, know what needs to be said and how, all leading to that perfect piece of coverage.

Time Management is Critical

Time management is something everyone can improve on, even if you already claim to be a pro – it’s probably written on your resume right now. But wait until you actually see what it’s like having to manage more than one thing on your plate. And no, planning what time to spend in the library versus Netflix in bed is not time management.

Your clients are paying big bucks to have the job done and it can be easy to get side tracked while working on a project. It’s imperative to pay attention to all clients and get whatever needs to be done, done in a reasonable time. I know I struggled going from one task to the next, but it gets easier and more fluid with time. A to-do list is a great way to do so. It may seem trivial, but keeping a log of everything you’re working on, due dates and specific client requests will help you be able to keep track of what might be sliding through the cracks.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to be working from start to finish each day. While you may think you’re being productive, you’re actually doing the opposite. Being busy isn’t the same thing as being productive. Everyone needs a break every once and a while to clear their heads and get back on the grind. Schedule in a five to 10-minute break after each assignment. This way your head won’t get groggy when you’re cranking out press release after press release. Plus, who can manage to stare at a computer screen all day without going a little crazy?

Ask for Help

This may sound obvious, but never be afraid to ask for help. There’s nothing worse than being confused about something and moving ahead with it anyway, only to find it was completely wrong. It may feel like a shot to your self-esteem, but come on, we’re all here to learn. This is especially true with writing. If you’re unsure about the topic you’re pitching or drafting a release around, the content and voice could be completely off. Make sure to always have a clear understanding of the goal of your work.

As being a newbie involved in tech, there’s a good amount of things to get confused about. Like what is big data and analytics? A lot of terms like these will be thrown around, and if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s up to you to ask for clarification because before you know it, you’ll be asked to write a pitch about it. So, reach out to your coworkers. They’re here to help you and work with you, no matter how intimidating they may first seem.

Be Passionate About Your Work

Like you’ve heard before, “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Some days may be harder than others. Sometimes you’ll get knocked down and want to run to your bed never to come out again, but it’s all in the learning process. After a month, or even six, you’ll begin to see yourself grow. Your writing will become stronger, you’ll gain more confidence in new business meetings and you’ll especially start to feel more comfortable going above and beyond your normal comfort levels.

You can’t be the best at your job unless you’re truly passionate about it. Tech PR wasn’t always the route I thought I’d find myself on, but I’ve come to appreciate its unpredictable nature. Every day is different, and I love that. It’s what makes coming to work exciting.

Think you’re ready to tackle the world of tech with what is arguably the best team around? Look no further – GMG is hiring!

We’re growing rapidly, and looking for talented public relations and marketing pros in both the D.C. and Los Angeles area. Take it from me, joining the GMG team is one of the best decisions I’ve made, even a year later, and it can be yours, too! Interested in learning more about our opportunities or applying? Visit our careers page.

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