Group Gordon’s Hillary Wasserman finds surprising parallels and lessons from friends in higher education, television writing, animation, and medical research.
One of my favorite parts of working in PR is that the more I learn about the world around me, the better I can be at my job. This applies to everything from reading news across topics to having conversations with loved ones.
A somewhat surprising source of knowledge for me has been my friends outside of work. For many reasons, I am incredibly lucky to have had the same close group of friends since my childhood in New Jersey. We’ve all settled into seemingly disparate career paths as adults, but some of the core tenets of our work overlap. Undoubtedly, this accomplished social group has provided valuable lessons for me from their fields that I’ve been able to apply in my job.
A friend who is a PhD student has been an invaluable resource in my work with higher education clients at GG. Higher education institutions have their own unique dynamics unlike in any other industry. For example, late August is often very quiet for corporate clients, but it can be the busiest time of year for colleges as students and faculty return to campus. I’ve been able to develop better strategies for internal communications and implement best practices for engaging with faculty through what I’ve learned from my friend’s experience.
Another friend works in animation and has leveraged her skillset to support diverse projects like a hit children’s show and a digital series about soccer stars. Her job function is often very consistent across shows, but the subject matter can vary wildly, and she needs to get up to speed quickly. I’ve found working at a PR agency role to be a direct parallel; teams at GG apply their strategic thinking and media prowess to industries as wide-ranging as professional services to public health. Her adaptability to new areas has been a key component of her career success, and I work to emulate that in a PR setting.
Few people appreciate the importance of good writing – and timing – more than my friend who writes for television. Every TV show you watch is the result of months of brainstorming, writing, editing, re-writing – and then pitching to the right studio at the right time. While the op-eds I write for work are much shorter than a full season of a TV drama, similar principles apply. The op-ed needs to be exceptionally well-written, but if an editor doesn’t see the urgency or they just published on a similar topic, writing quality isn’t enough.
In my friend’s medical research job at a major hospital, she makes sure research plans are thorough, ethical, and (hopefully) useful in the outcomes they will produce. Taking that time up front prevents challenges later. When we engage with new clients at GG, we invest a lot of time in our discovery process to get to know the client’s industry and the corresponding media landscape. Doing that work at the start sets us up for more success down the line; we can embark on projects confidently, knowing that we are on the right track and avoiding the issues that come from not doing due diligence.
I’m always learning from my GG colleagues about PR, such as best practices to manage certain kinds of clients, new reporter beats, and creative ways to stay on top of the news. It’s also important to learn from those outside of the industry – especially from my intelligent and talented group of friends – to become a well-rounded professional.