Putting yourself out there can seem daunting when you’re a young professional working in PR and communication. Between keeping up with a fast-paced job and maintaining some semblance of a social life, growing your professional development can feel like a behemoth task.
Taking part in PRFest proved to me why it’s so, so worthwhile to seek out new challenges, big or small, outside of the normal 9-5.
At first, I was a bit nervous to get started. I’m a communications officer who works in a busy press office for an environmental organisation. Day to day, I’m fielding enquiries from the media, preparing spokespeople for interviews, and supporting campaigns. The act of simultaneously committing yourself to different projects demands a healthy dose of prioritisation, time management and rest when you need it – but it’s completely doable.
Building a network
My nerves quickly turned into excitement after an initial meeting with the international steering group made up of communications professionals based around the world. Many of my fellow PRFest team members quickly became friends and I’ve learnt so much from their unique insights into the industry.
I also felt such a buzz from contributing my own creative ideas. My background in environmentalism helped with planning a session for the planet themed day, called the Under-represented Voices of the Climate Crisis. This was a completely new challenge; I’d never helped organise a virtual event before.
For me, this turned out to be my favourite part. I even managed to overcome my nerves and host the session with climate activist Kevin Mtai as the speaker. Hosting was another new experience and the idea seemed super scary at first. But nothing builds self-confidence quite like putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. It turned out great and I’d be prepared to do something similar in the future.
Being part of the PRFest steering group has given me added reassurance that I can utilise my contacts and use my existing communications skills to create something wonderful. Seeing audience members engage with an event that I’d organised gave me so much satisfaction and reminded me of the meaningful impact that PR and communications can have.
Three takeaways from PRFest
Keep expanding your horizons: you can gain so much value from talking to fellow communicators who bring their own unique perspectives from all over the world.
Throw yourself into the unknown every once in a while: it’s important to gain a specialism, but if you’re curious about a completely new area of PR and communication then see if you can get involved somehow – it’s never a bad time to try something new.
Don’t be afraid to ask the ‘stupid’ questions: this may seem like an obvious one, but this simple trick is useful for every comms professional, no matter how much experience you have or whatever situation you’re in. There’s really no such thing as a stupid question and it’s always better to be sure rather than waste time doing the wrong task.
Guest blog by Sophie Thirkell. You can follow her on Twitter @sophthirkell.