I sometimes think that working in PR is a bit like driving a bullet train – speeding at 200 mph, needing your wits about you, a bit risky – and one heck of a ride.
But with new routes being added to the train map recently (think social media and other digital tools), and more destinations appearing all the time, what happens when you need to jump off this high speed train for a bit – or a lot in my case?
I’m back in full time work now after having three gorgeous boys in quick succession. In the space of five years, I spent a whopping 2 and-a-half years out of the workplace (not all in one go, but almost) – while that bullet train continued to hurtle along on its journey.
Each time I jumped back onto the PR train I found the pace of change shockingly noticeable.
For the most part, it’s exciting – dare I say exhilarating – to witness the explosion of different ways to communicate with people and getting to grips with the opportunities and benefits they bring to an organisation.
But when you’re the one managing a PR/marketing team and you’ve been out of the game a long time, it can also feel unsettling sometimes – having to learn your Vine from your Vimeo, your Buffer from your bit-ly.
So, how do you play catch up and get your mojo back, when the world seems to have moved on without you?
Here are a few things I’ve found helpful along the way:
- Be ruthlessly focused in your up-skilling
Get up to speed in the areas you’re unfamiliar with – and fast – particularly if you’re planning on going off on maternity leave again in the future. I’ve made a point of focusing my CPD activities on new tactical areas – such as social media, online video, and how to evaluate these new networks.
The CIPR CPD scheme is excellent, with loads of resources to access for members. The Government Communications Service has also been an invaluable resource to me and they have recently made a lot of their material publically available to all.
- Use Twitter as a resource tool
Make sure you’re following some key twitter influencers – particularly in fields you need to know more about. Some great people are @helreynolds and @muddywall for social media expertise; @allthingsIC and @theICrowd for internal communications and @comms2point0 and @danslee for general communications enlightenment.
- Get a mentor
I was gutted to have missed the deadline to apply for the PRweekmentoring scheme for women, which looks excellent (they may well do one next year, if this year is a success). But, there are other avenues you can pursue.
But it doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement. You could just find someone more experienced than you, from your own network, to offer a listening ear and advice along the way.
- Delegate and learn from your team
You can’t do it all and are not expected to – you’re leading a team remember – and your team has stayed on that train while you disembarked, so you can learn loads from them.
- Find inspiration and draw strength from others
- Relax and enjoy the changes
Finally, never forget that while some of the tactics may have changed, the fundamental principles of PR and marketing still apply – and that is something you are very familiar with. Success is all about having clear objectives and strategy, some great activities in place to implement those plans and then evaluating your outcomes. You’re great at that – you just have more weapons in your armoury now.
Photos (creative commons)
1) Our Shinkansen to Hakone by Su-May
2) Tea towel for ma by My SuperTuesday