Karen Eck is no stranger to hard work and is as resilient as you can get. She has steered her 30+ year career in public relations from intern to globe-trotting international media manager before setting up her own PR agency, the wonderfully named Eckfactor, almost two decades ago.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to thrive and survive in the fast-paced world of PR or how to build your own PR business from the ground up, this could not be a better place to start.
Have 50 minutes up your sleeve? Head straight to The PR Pod podcast episode Karen features on. We deep-dive into Karen's long and illustrious career, discuss the attributes for success both as a PR practitioner and as a PR agency owner, and chat about Karen's new role as the unlikely face of social change.
You'll find a link at the bottom of this blog or just search "The PR Pod" on Apple, Spotify or your fave podcast platform and look for the ep with the same title as this blog post.
If you are short on time and not interest, here are some of some of the key points we discussed in the episode. Easy and actionable, these are a great bedrock for a successful public relations career.
Resilience in a Restless Industry
Public relations can be a slog.
The job requires you to be “on” at all times, combined with the endless sense of having to recreate the wheel every single day – that’s on top of the mountain of reporting and admin involved. And when it comes to those less-than-inspiring projects and campaigns, sometimes a lemon will always be a lemon, no matter how hard you squeeze it.
Resilience is the difference between a good and great PR professional. It’s the key that turns a “no” into a “yes” when you’re pitching an unknown brand or talent, and the cool-head required when those lemons start multiplying, rapidly.
Resilience will keep you on top of the ever-changing media landscape, play a significant part in your career longevity and will underpin your character in this relentless industry.
Build it up and make resilience the key attribute that sets you apart.
Finding the Right Balance
The freedom to set your own day is one of the best things about working in public relations: choosing how and when to tackle a project, and the thrill of shouldering that responsibility.
But such freedom can be exhilarating one day and exhausting the next. Time management is key, and if you’re not on top of things, it might mean a late night (or a very early morning) getting a job across the line. And if the whole thing turns out to be a flop, there’s nothing worse than knowing you could have done more to change the outcome.
That’s why establishing a good work-life balance in a PR is so important, yet oh-so tricky. The only thing you can bet on for sure is that your responsibilities and time constraints will change from one project to the next.
Get cosy with the idea that there’s no such thing as a perfect work-life balance. It’s a moving target, and what works today may not stick in six months' time. It doesn’t mean you’ve gotten slack. It just means no two projects are the same.
The best way to build balance is to have a system in place to manage your tasks and deadlines, and carve out time to give yourself time to breathe.
Karen's a huge fan of walking and talking. Take 30 mins to get some oxygen pumping through your body and use that time to multi-task. Call a client back, follow-up that journalist you keep missing or brainstorm some tactics for an upcoming campaign. All while getting in some exercise. #winning.
Look for Perspective
You've no doubt heard many times before 'it's PR, not ER'.
And although the job may feel like it at times, putting a dire situation into perspective can be both sobering and restorative.
If you drop the ball on a project, chances are it’s probably not the end of the world. It may be uncomfortable in the short-term but use it as an opportunity to learn. We've all made mistakes we wish we hadn't. It's how we handled them that is remembered.
Have a sense of humour about what you do, because a little bit goes a long way when things look grim. And do whatever you need to do to find clarity among the chaos, whether it’s asking for support, taking a step back to review your next steps or finding some resources that might give you some additional perspective - like this podcast!
You’re Only as Good as Your Last Gig
Every job or client we take has a bearing on our career path. And while we don’t always have the luxury of being able to pick and choose the projects we work on, the quality of our work has the power to give us greater options in the future.
Don't like the client? Not connecting with the brand? It happens.
Look at each job, client or campaign as an opportunity to get one step closer to your ultimate gig. As well as being a chance to hone your skill set, consider the power of word-of-mouth on your next job. A strong professional reference could be a game-changer for you and your career. That client you thought was a bit of a tool, could be the person that connects you to a dream campaign.
Loved these tips and want to learn more about getting ahead in PR? Listen to the full episode here. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast player, just search "The PR Pod".
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If you love soaking in insight and information, take a listen to some of our other episodes here.
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