My eldest daughter Sydney will graduate from college this weekend. As hard as it is to believe how quickly the years zipped by, it’s even harder to believe that she is graduating with a degree in PR from Southern Methodist University.
I never thought she’d follow in my footsteps and become a PR flack. I never encouraged it. I thought she’d be a teacher or an artist or a fashion designer, but not a Mini-Me, at least career-wise.
But she chose it on her own, and in just two days, she’ll be entering the brave, new world of PR. I wrote her a letter, which I share here in honor of her and all the young people entering our profession this spring. I wish them all the best as they embark upon the greatest career ever.
It’s really not that hard to be successful in PR if you remember a few things.
To my Sydney,
All those years I worried about your cush suburban upbringing getting the best of you… well, I guess I needn’t have worried so much. You’ve made all of us in your family proud with your hustle as you became a published writer, completed an internship, juggled a retail job and held down two PR jobs, all as you worked toward your degree. You can multi-task, work hard and figure things out on your own, and if you can apply these skills to your new career in PR, you will go far.
It’s really not that hard to be successful in PR if you remember a few things:
Some people in PR don't listen well. I didn't have very good listening skills when I started in PR. But all the great ones in our profession listen, and when they speak, people pay attention, because what they say is profound. I learned this from my mentor, John Onoda.
Everyone worked really hard when I started in PR years ago. If you put in extra effort and establish yourself as the colleague who “gets it done,” then you will be surprised at how quickly you advance in our field.
Many young people think they need to go out and get a mentor. But what I’ve found is if you work hard, mentors find you, you don't have to seek them out. Successful people want to cultivate those whom they deem as having potential. So, focus on doing the best you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that present themselves.
Think of others.
We are a me-oriented society. Fight this tendency. Think of others as you go about your day. The very essence of our profession is rooted in the ability to look across a company’s many stakeholders and put ourselves in their shoes, so we can communicate effectively with them. If you’re the type of person that lives with empathy, grace and care for others, you will have a wonderful family life and be an amazing friend, colleague and PR professional. You’ve chosen a brilliant profession and my hope for you is that you love your job every day as much as I love mine. We are so proud of you, and I look forward to watching your future unfold and your teaching me a thing or two about PR in the years ahead.
Congratulations and much love, Mom