Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The biggest mistake junior PRs can make


I was recently interviewed for MK's award winning PR blog. Marcel and I know each other from Westminster uni where I was his associate lecturer - he just graduated with a distinction - and he was also the Comms Crowd junior for a year. Now he's a Junior Account Executive at M&C Saatchi PR

MK honours student and smart PR
In his #4PRQs series he asks a range of industry types the same four questions. The one I found most interesting was:  

What is the biggest mistake of junior people you employ, and how can it be fixed?

And this is my expanded answer:

The biggest mistake even the best of them make, is trying to appear you are on it when you are not… saying you understand what you are doing when you don’t, not quite. I get the motivation – need to look like you are on it, don’t want to ask daft questions.

But we know coming into an agency life from an academic background is a huge shock: 
not least the speed in which things move:
  • Agencies are always very fast, very busy and er slightly stressed and everyone apart from the new junior knows exactly what they are doing.
  • The level of multi-tasking expected is unprecedented, it's not unusual for a junior to sit across five or six accounts or even more.
  • Being cc'd on every mail on every account sounds great right? you finally get to see what's really going on. But believe me. it's a high price to pay for wading through 200 mails a day, and where are you supposed to put them when you've read them? Are they all important??
So it's no wonder juniors are over-whelmed from day one. But without complete understanding of what you are doing and why, even ‘simple’ tasks like updating media lists, or sourcing twitter feed content goes awry as the junior lacks the confidence to speak up and clarify any questions, resulting in frustration and lack of faith all around.

Much better to fess up at the beginning and claim ignorance, especially in my sector where the subject matter is deep. I mean how is a junior supposed to be all over AI, blockchain, machine learning, crypto currencies – etc? We really don’t expect you to get it straight away anyway, so you just speak up and ask those ‘stupid questions’.

Well done Marcel, v proud.

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