If you are like most of us working in the glorious field of public relations, there will come a time when you no longer want to build media lists for a living.
As much fun as it might be to battle effortlessly peruse Cision listings all day, the allure of greater responsibility and more say in matters (and, yeah, more money) will become too great to ignore.
At this point, you will be forced to start thinking about making “the jump.” It’s the next logical step in your career.
But, like I have realized over the past year and a half, moving up in your PR career brings with it a new set of challenges that, frankly, never crossed my mind.
I’ve tried to capture five items that, I believe, are the truth behind moving up in your PR career.
1. Success Will Look Different
When you are a junior member of a team, success is pretty easy to identify. The more stories you secure, the more successful you have been. The end.
But as you grow as a professional, your level of success will be tied directly to how well the people you are managing perform. And that’s a scary thought.
Up until this point, it was you, and only you, who was responsible for your success. Now you will be deemed successful if your team is successful. It’s a level of accomplishment that is a bit harder to quantify.
In this results oriented business, it can feel, at least at first, like you’re not doing actual work. Hard to get used to.
2. You Will Have Less Tangible Ways to Show Your Efforts
With more high-level decision-making comes less busy work.
It used to be that filling out that media list, or pushing a media alert to the local broadcast affiliates, meant a job well done.
But that’s no longer your responsibility.
It falls on you to guide the strategy behind the media list; behind the broadcast outlets they are pitching. And, oh yeah, you’re the final proofreader.
Sometimes you go home feeling like you haven’t done anything all day. And, sometimes, that’s fairly accurate since your idea of “work product” has changed.
It almost doesn’t resemble PR.
3. You Will Be Responsible for Others’ Success
Not only will you have to work harder and smarter (and with less tangible results) to show value, but the people who report to you will look to you to validate them. So now you’re responsible not only for your own career path, but of somebody else, as well.
Take a second to hearken back to your first days working in an agency. Remember that person you nagged constantly with questions about how best to position yourself for recognition.
That person is now you.
4. It Will Not Be Easy
Going from being a doer to a, um, do-ee is hard. Not everybody is wired to give orders that map to the big picture. Especially if you have grown comfortable with the idea of doing what others tell you.
But unless you’re content with doing what somebody else tells you to do for the rest of your life, you will have to make the switch to a leadership type role at some point. And believe me when I say that not all of us are wired to lead.
Just like your golf game, you’ll become better as you practice.
But unlike your golf game, you can’t look at a score to prove you are improving.
It’s nebulous, at best. And not knowing exactly where you stand is daunting.
You just have to trust that your years of experience will help you.
5. But It Will Be Worth It
There’s something very fulfilling when you finally figure out (at least, somewhat) how to lead a team and show that you know what you’re doing.
It’s almost like learning how to play the guitar, in that you achieve a fulfillment that comes from gaining a new skill.
As you transition to a supervisor role, that junior member mentality you’ve been operating under starts to fade away, replaced by somebody who is more confident in their ability.
And as the weeks and months pass, you will find that, like anything, it becomes easier the more you work at it.
Like I said above, it’s definitely not an easy transition. In fact, I think the jump from a senior team member to a supervisor role is the most difficult jump you’ll have to make.
But if you can land it, all of that work you put in will definitely pay off.