Have you ever wished that you’d done something differently? For most of us, there is at least one mistake we wish we hadn’t made. Hindsight is 20/20 and no matter how prepared you are for your career, mistakes will inevitably happen. To make your transition from student to new professional as smooth as possible, keep any eye out for these common (and potentially costly) mistakes.
- Misspelling a Journalist’s Name. When pitching, this is one of the easiest mistakes to make. While it’s not necessarily fatal – if the journalist is interested in the content, they may pick it up anyway – it’s certainly embarrassing and could devalue your credibility.Being a new pro, you’ll always want to put your best foot forward and show that you bring professionalism and valuable skills to the team. Don’t jeopardize that by not taking 15 more seconds to double check someone’s name. While you’re at it, run spell check to make sure there aren’t any other errors that may have slipped under the radar.
- Not Prioritizing Deadlines. You may have days when you have your to-do list planned out, but another (more time sensitive) project pops up just as your day is getting started. These little projects are one thing I personally like about being a PR pro because each day truly is different, but having a dynamic schedule also presents risks.Don’t let the small project become a huge project because you put it off for a week and it’s due tomorrow morning. It’s so easy to get caught up in the urgency of sporadic assignments, but you need to be disciplined in carving out time for larger, long-term projects. If you find that you are struggling to keep up, communicate that to your supervisor or colleagues who can help.
- Referencing the Wrong Media Outlet. Just like misspelling a journalist’s name, this is an easy one to make when pitching. If you are working for an agency, you may talk to people from numerous media outlets each day. You’ll want to avoid telling the guy from The NonProfit Times that what you have to offer would be of interest to readers of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. As much as we love to be quick and responsive, it’s worth it to slow down a little for the sake of accuracy.
- Not Keeping Your Supervisor Updated. Keeping your supervisor and team members updated with how your projects are going is so invaluable. Teamwork makes the dream work, but not without clear communication. As mentioned previously, this comes in handy if you are struggling, but it’s also critical to establishing expectations. Allowing others to draw their own conclusions about when you will have a project finished will come back to haunt you more times than not.
- Sending Out the Wrong Version. Out of all these mistakes, this one may have the potential to be the most costly. Anyone who has internally edited content before it’s made public knows that the process can be long and tedious. A minor change may not seem significant, yet the change may have been in reference to financial or other information that needs to be completely accurate. Before you send something out, always check to be sure that you have the final version.
Being a new professional is about learning, but you’ll be one step ahead of the game when avoiding these little mishaps. Attention to detail is invaluable and it’s something that gets stronger over time. The more you practice, the more effective you’ll be at predicting potential mistakes and spotting them should they arise. In time, you’ll find a style that works for you. Keep calm, stay focused and enjoy your new career as a PR pro!
Jeff Adkins is a public relations associate for Henry Ford Hospital and Health Network in Detroit, Michigan. An active member of the Detroit chapter of PRSA, Jeff enjoys connecting with fellow PR pros and seeking out new professional experiences. He’s a 2014 Wayne State University alum, where he obtained a Bachelor’s in Public Relations and was a member of the university’s PRSSA chapter. In his free time, Jeff enjoys being active outdoors and volunteers as a public relations officer with Portal Paranormal Society. Feel free to connect with him on Twitter at @jeffadkins14 and LinkedIn.