From Richard Branson's Virgin Group in Australia and the US to various tenures at the United Nations in New York, Paris and Amsterdam, Belinda Gurd has held some impressive communications roles which would make most of us (me included...) a little green with envy.
Belle joins this episode of The PR Pod podcast to provide some insight into how she steered her career from a degree in design to two of the most high profile companies in the world. She discusses the bold career swings she made, the lessons she learned finding a PR role in New York and, the importance of asking 'why'.
We also discuss attributes that set apart a great PR practitioner from a good one, and reminisce on our own pathways into PR.
If you're time-poor, you'll find some of the key learnings we chatted about, below. But.... If you can find an hour this week, even in small chunks, then do yourself a favour and listen to the full episode. There's oodles of insight I'm sure you'll find invaluable.
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE
If there’s one thing that’s true in life, it’s that we don’t know everything. But at the same time, we definitely know something.
This is especially true in public relations. If a project’s style, substance or direction isn’t clear; don’t be afraid to trust that little instinct and ask why; you might not be alone in wondering. And, don’t feel like asking questions is a sign of weakness. It simply shows you’re willing to learn.
You also shouldn't be afraid to stick your hand up if a delegated task isn't computing with you. By acknowledging our vulnerability in the workplace, we’re doing what’s best for the project and the team. Because no one gets ahead when someone on the team is stuck staring at a blank screen.
Look for mentorship and support wherever you can. A good team leader will be eager to share their knowledge and experience. Just don't forget to use your initiative wherever you can...
And, as a general rule, if you don’t feel like you can confidently ask a question in your workplace, it might not be a great place to work!
IF A DOOR OPENS, GET A FOOT IN
Say you’ve been offered a role at an exciting new company. Its values resonate with you, the branding is spot-on and the salary is fair. But the role itself isn’t quite what you had in mind. What do you do?
Give it a go, if you can. There might be a chance to create your ideal role later on. And, who knows? Maybe this is the role you’ve been chasing all along; you just didn’t know until you tried it.
If you're holding out on looking for a job because you can't put your finger on the sector you're really passionate about, you need to let that go. Don’t get hung up on finding your passion right away. It can take people years to find out what they're best at or what they're truly connected to. Sometimes what we think we’re good at isn’t always the case. Give everything a go and learn as much as you can about different departments and roles. Because when that door opens, you’ll be ready to walk through it.
There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and cringing at the thought of work. It can be really deflating. Maybe you used to love the role but it no longer resonates with you. Or perhaps the role lacks purpose.
Whatever the reason, it’s ok to want something different. We don’t have to wake up every day and hate what we do. Sure, bad days at work are bound to happen so you need to be able to separate adversity with immense hatred. But, if we don’t have a genuine purpose to help us get through those days, there’s a problem and it’s ok to accept that fact.
Reflect not just on the role, but the industry you work in. Don’t love either? Make the transition out. Find a connection within an industry that resonates with you. Careers are dynamic and evolve over time. What gets you out of bed today may not tomorrow.
Focus on building your skills and experience in the job you're in while putting your out-of-hours efforts into finding something more suitable.
COMMS IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
If you’re thinking about a comms career in another country, make sure you do the leg-work before you touch down.
Speak to as many people as you can to understand the local industry. Reach out to recruiters. Trawl through your LinkedIn contacts. Set up meetings to understand what employers are looking for.
Some countries ask for certain qualifications before you enter. If that’s the case, make sure you’ve got them. And once you’re in, join the local PR groups on Facebook and sign up for network events. If you really want to make the move, be ready to put yourself out there.
Loved these tips and want to learn more about getting ahead in PR? Listen to the podcast interview with Belinda Gurd, a communications strategist who has held senior PR roles in Australia, the US and Europe.
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