From Intern to Account Exec: 5 tips to grow your career in PR

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Public Relations

It seems like not too long ago that I started my journey in public relations as an intern for a digital marketing agency in Orange County. Now, almost three years later, I am an Account Executive at a different agency, in a different location, running my own client accounts. Figuring out what steps to take in order to advance your career and climb the corporate ladder can be a challenging task. Speaking from personal experience, here are 5 tips to grow your career In PR:

1. Build your contacts and your reputation

In the PR business, you don’t necessarily have to know everyone (and have everyone know you), but it certainly helps. Take the time to build and cultivate relationships with professionals in the industry. Familiarize yourself with the media you’re reaching out to and their main areas of coverage to ensure the reporters/journalists will actually be interested in your pitch and will want to work with you. The more relevant stories and pitch angles you present to the media, the stronger your professional relationship with them will be, and the stronger your overall reputation will grow. Before you know it, reporters will be reaching out to you first. Attending workshops, seminars, conferences, and events are also great ways to get connected and get your name out there.

2. Earn the trust of your clients

As an Account Executive, the single most important thing you can do to ensure success in your career is to earn the trust of your clients. This is true not only for those of us working in PR, but for every other client-facing professional as well. If clients are involved, we are in the business of keeping them happy and the best way to do so is by generating opportunity after opportunity to show them that we know exactly what we’re doing and are more than capable of getting the job done. Clients just want to feel like they’re in the right hands PR-wise, and I’ve come to learn that nothing yields trust like results do. The more placements and opportunities you secure, whether that’s meetings with reporters, briefings with analysts, podcast interviews, byline publications, newsjacking opportunities, etc., the more trust your clients will have in you and the more likely they’ll want to keep being your clients.

3. Look forward and keep things moving

The work we do in PR is never done. There is always a pitch to be written and sent out, a reporter to be contacted, a meeting or interview to be set up, etc. There are countless media opportunities to pursue so make sure to always look ahead and have a plan for what comes next. Our main objective as PR executives is to generate as many PR wins for our clients as possible. Secured placements in Fast Company and Business Insider? Well, what about Forbes? Or the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times? Get creative and figure out ways to keep the momentum going.

4. Do the job you want to be promoted to

One of the best pieces of career advice that I have ever received came from my current employer/supervisor. He told me that in order for a person to be promoted, they must already be doing the job and handling the responsibilities of the position or title they aspire to hold. Familiarize yourself with your own duties and learn to master those first, of course, but always be looking ahead. Figure out what promotion it is that you want and then act accordingly to reflect that. Take a look at the title’s job description and follow that as a guide for the steps you should be taking to reach the next level.

5. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to take the lead

Speaking up and voicing your ideas and opinions in a meeting room full of higher ups and executives who have more knowledge and experience than you do can be quite intimidating. Making my voice heard is something that I often struggled with, and sometimes still do. The most important thing I can offer here is to realize that nobody knows everything, regardless of experience and career status. It’s a learning process for everyone and there are many ways to do one thing. One way is not necessarily better than another, it’s all about finding what works for you.

The way PR is conducted is constantly evolving, which always leaves room for new ideas and suggestions. Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts because what I have found is that most of the time, there is at least one other person who was thinking the exact same thing. Even if that’s not the case, making your presence known is always worth the risk.

Elena Lopez
Elena Lopez is an Account Executive at Jmac PR, a boutique Strategic PR and Marketing Communications agency based in Los Angeles. She works with clients across a variety of industries, but her greatest expertise is in the B2B and B2C technology sectors.