What is common between medical practitioners and us – The PR people? Nothing much but just that we call our work – Practice. This is probably because just like the art of medicine, which is a never ending science into unknown depths and challenges, the art of PR is also a science, which can never be mastered completely. We all learn and evolve with new insights and ideas every day, by facing and dealing with new situations and challenges. But unlike medicine, where you need a licence to practice, anyone can be a PR practitioner, with little or no knowledge of how the world of PR functions. This is also one of the primary reasons why we get so many educational emails teaching us how we should practice our profession. This will continue, as in the free world we cannot restrict anyone from communicating messages on behalf of a client/individual to the media or directly to the end users through new media. So the only possible solution for us, who see PR as a serious profession, is to practice to be the best in what we do.
During the course of our careers, we come across many brilliant professionals who appear to know just everything. They come up with ideas that could never occur to us, they write brilliantly, they are super speakers and presenters, and they are well versed with economic-political-social developments of not only within the country but any part of the world. Some are brilliant at networking and genuinely can connect with journalists across the spectrum of media. Seeing their brilliance, we sigh and believe that these guys are naturally talented.
Ofcourse some people are gifted with some special skills but the reality is that such talented people are very rare and few. The truth is that a natural talent will only get you so far. Even research shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. Talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself into any number of things, and you can even make yourself great. In virtually every field of endeavour, most people learn quickly at first, then slow down and then stop developing completely. Yet a few are consistent in improving themselves and take the effort to be persistent for years and even decades, and go on to becoming the best in their profession, that is because they don’t stop practicing, they are never satisfied and never stop improving themselves.
I prefer calling myself a PR Practitioner rather than consultant or a professional etc., because the world practice reminds us that our practice to be perfect should never end, even if we know no one can be perfect, the least we can do is try to be the best in what we do for our living. If we recollect our initial days in this profession, we will remember many instances when we felt that ‘this is not my cup of tea.’ I cannot write well… I cannot make those classy presentations… I cannot connect with media as well as my peers… etc. etc. But some of us managed to survive and many even left the PR career for good. We survived because we worked on our weaknesses, we practiced writing, presenting, we read about the client’s business, the industry, we researched and networked.
But is that all? Are we satisfied with what we have achieved? If so, then probably you are in the last few years of your career, because ‘what stops is dead’.
If we want to still remain ticking and continue achieving new heights then our practice should never stop. Following are few suggestions I found from my search online that will help us continue our training regime to be a top performer:
1) SWOT Yourself: Do an analysis of yourself, like you do for your clients. Find out what are your strengths – build on it, identify your weakness – work on it, Find opportunities – Go for it, look out for threats – shield yourself. Set a plan for yourself with clear vision and determination and jump into it. But remember to dedicate large part of your focus on building on your strengths, some weaknesses you may never overcome – know where not to waste your time.
2) Measure your achievements against your targets: There is an old saying that says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It is very important to keep evaluating yourself at regular intervals and check how much you have improved from where you started and what more needs to be done to reach where you ultimately want to reach.
3) Identify your biggest career obstacle and dedicatedly practice to improve it. Mine was English; don’t know where I was when my English teacher was teaching grammar in the class. Fortunately/unfortunately I have landed up in a job, where I can’t do anything without good proficiency in English language. So I practice and will continue to do so until all the errors you see in my articles vanish. Research says those who set aside time to practice will continually outperform those who think they already know enough. So believing this I am ON, don’t know how much time it will take though.
4) Be a mentor to someone and get yourself a mentor as well: Find someone who you think is good at what he/she has been doing, discuss your ideas, take suggestions on your problems and way forward etc., but implement only when you believe that those will work for you, don’t just blindly follow what is being preached. Also take time to help your juniors reach where they want to. You’ll stay on top of your game by helping somebody else reach your level, and it will help you identify additional areas where you can continue to improve your performance.
5) Never Stop Learning: Like I said before, ‘what stops is dead’. If you think you have already become an expert, in no time you will also become redundant. Make a conscious and persistent effort to learn whenever you can. Listen to books on your commute, read the latest case studies and research reports, and also do reading just to entertain yourself, read management and leadership books but sometimes read some good entertaining fiction.
The list may never end, but would like to know from you, how you manage to achieve great results time and again? What are the lessons that life has taught you to be successful? Share with us, let’s work it out together. Comment here or on my blog www.vikypedia.in or just tweet @vikramkharvi.
- Jack of all Trades or Master of One? (vikypedia.in)