What’s the Secret to Moving Up in the PR Jungle?

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“Welcome to the Jungle” – Guns N’ Roses

Let me start off by saying that I do not have the answer to this question. At one point I thought I did, but lately I’m not so sure anymore. I’m hoping some of you can help me out.

Six months into my PR career, I was promoted and given a 20 percent raise following a series of media placements and an overall ‘knack’ for bringing value to clients. No, I wasn’t making a lot of money, but that was significant to me and I was certainly thrilled. First thing I did was I went out to the local mall, bought some new clothes, a $125 pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses (still have them), and couldn’t wait to get on the train the next day and walk around like a Wall Street big shot (even though I worked on Park Ave … but still, not too shabby).

This continued for the next two years. Every six months I was getting promoted and receiving significant increases in my salary. It was like watching Bill Murray’s character in “Groundhog Day,” I was reliving the same story … and it felt good. Real good. But eventually things started to change, slightly, but it was still a change. I don’t know if it was the beginning of the downturn in the economy, or just how things start to get when you move up in the corporate world, but the promotions and raises were not happening nearly as quickly. I began to realize that there was much more to advancing in this world than just getting your clients quoted in the New York Times and getting them opportunities to appear on cable news shows.

There were a series of questions I began to ask myself now that I had accomplished some of the basics in PR, and they all revolved around what it took to move up and maintain that ‘fast track’ status. Those questions include: 

  • Is it bringing in new business?
  • Getting your clients to increase their retainer?
  • Working longer hours than everyone else?
  • Is it consistency?
  • Waiting for someone to leave in order to open up a new opportunity at your agency?
  • Learning social media and adding new value to your personal brand?
  • Waiting for the economy to turnaround?

The short answer is that it’s probably a combination of everything on this list. But to reiterate, I don’t have the answer and I’m hoping some of you can help.

Would you add anything else to this list? Is there a senior-level executive that reads this blog and can help some of us out? Please comment.


6 comments on “What’s the Secret to Moving Up in the PR Jungle?

  1. I ask myself this all the time. And the comparing to others in your position at your company or not make the questions even harder to answer. I wish there was a magic checklist, like when you got your rubric back in school. That would make knowing easier.

    • I don’t think there’s one true answer. Think you just gotta do what you’re doing, not worry about others, and hope that eventually you’ll be rewarded and learn something along the way

  2. I had a very similar experience at the beginning of my PR career. I think you’re on the right track with the questions at the end of your post. The great thing (for me) about PR is that once you’ve mastered the basics (granted, you have to evolve as the media world changes), the opportunities for growth are just beginning.

    You’ll see some PR pros begin to excel in client service, others are great at building the agency through organic growth or bringing in new business, some become social media gurus… if you work with a good, supportive PR agency, you can blaze your own trail based on your unique talents.


    • I guess I’m wondering who you need to get in front of in order to help blaze that trail. Is it your direct manager that is going to help you get noticed, your group leader, the head of the agency? Wish I knew 🙂

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