6 Ways PR Professionals Can Take Their Career to the Next Level

The founder of AKR Public Relations offers practical leadership advice after more than a decade of PR experience

This article originally appeared on businesscollective.com.

As someone who started in the PR industry at age 18, I have had almost 15 years of experience — and with it, my share of ups and downs. Whether during my tenure at NBC Universal or in the time since I started AKR Public Relations, each career experience has taught me something incredibly valuable along the way about leadership and business.

[Related: 8 Ways to Get Free Publicity For Your Small Business or Startup]

Below are six of the most important lessons I have learned along the way, each of which has made me a stronger publicist and business owner.

  1. Social media is an extension of your voice. I have always been a big advocate for social media; I think it is a crucial part of everyone’s brand. My motto for my clients and employees is: social media is an extension of your voice. It is imperative to be concise across the board, so the message that you portray of who you are in the media and in your personal life is the same message that comes across social platforms. It only takes one impulsive post to destroy a reputation that has taken years to build.
  2. Work for the job you want, not the job you have. These words have been etched into my mind ever since the first day of my internship in the NBC Entertainment PR department. Quickly after starting, I realized that entertainment PR was what I wanted to do with my career. I went from interning two days a week to three days and Saturdays. I noticed what was making me stand out was my genuine interest to learn the business and willingness to volunteer to help when needed. I applied this lesson every day during my eight years at NBC. In my final year, I was 26 years old — and one of the youngest company-wide to handle both PR and talent relations for the network. This advice is also what inspired me to start my own PR firm, AKR Public Relations, at 27.
  3. Networking can happen anywhere. Networking is one of the most powerful and most critical tools there is in any field. Establishing these personal relationships will help sustain longevity and success within your industry. Everywhere you go is an opportunity to work on networking skills, which is why it is so important to always remain professional and represent your brand everywhere you are. Continually connecting with new people while cultivating and leveraging your network is one of the foundations of any successful entrepreneur. 
  4. Stay on the pulse. Information is crucial and ever-changing. Read as much as you can from as many different sources as possible. Don’t limit yourself to just one field, either. Not only is it important to have a vast knowledge of the top events going on in your industry, having an understanding of the trends in multiple arenas will make you that much more valuable to employers and clients.
  5. No email is too small. Being in PR really means being accessible at any time. I always have my phones on me at all times and answer in a timely matter. That doesn’t just apply to clients; I will answer any email, intern request, auction item request I can. I have been fortunate enough to receive this same courtesy throughout my career and I think that goes a long way.
  6. Your voice can be a tool to help others. In this industry, the top performers have unbelievable relationships and an ability to get their messages out there. As such, I am grateful to be able to lend my voice to those who have none. One of my biggest passions is animal welfare. Recently, I worked with an incredible group of eight volunteers to raise over $220,000 in 11 days to save 108 dogs from a puppy mill dispersal auction. We were able to use the power of social media and the press to raise awareness for the mission. Likewise, another cause that is very near to my heart is cancer research. I lost my mother to a rare form of cancer in 2005 and ever since, I try to do everything I can to help raise more awareness and funds for research because it is so important. I encourage leaders in any field to use their influence to make an impact that goes beyond their own clients and customers too.

–written by Amanda K. Ruisi

Amanda K. Ruisi, the Founder and President of AKR Public Relations brings over 10 years of experience to her full-service agency with an impressive list of honors including the prestigious “Ace Award” for all Media Relations given by PR Daily and Ragan Communications, as well as being inducted into Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40: Class of 2014,” recognizing the year’s best and brightest among Generation Next.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, and small business owners.