Some people in PR industry will try and tell you it’s impossible to switch industries once you’ve started, that there’s no way you could go from pushing fashion brands to pushing out the latest technology. Personally, I don’t think this is true.
PR is built on fundamental building blocks. For example, skills like writing, research, event organisation and media relations are all keys to success regardless of whether you are promoting lip sticks or USB sticks. All you need to learn are the intricacies of your new industry.
When I got into the FinTech industry I came with very little prior experience. I had worked with technology before but the closest I got to anything finance related was Cryptocurrency and even that was only a brief campaign. So, I needed to learn what made this industry tick, and I needed to do it fast. The PR world is constantly moving and unless this is your very first rodeo you’ll be expected to keep up.
I spent my first day, and the build-up to my new role, reading through as many whitepapers and news stories as possible. However, I didn’t feel like this was as efficient an approach as it could have been. It was all theory and no practice. Instead, I thought back to the swimming lessons I had as a child and decided that the best way to learn was to jump into the deep end of FinTech.
As a result, I put myself in situations where I was surrounded by the industry and my clients. Instead of just reading datasheets from my clients I spoke with them directly, face-to-face if possible, and tasked myself with coming out of these meetings able to explain something new to my colleagues. In my first week I got on the phone to speak with the media about what they were looking for from me, while also pitching out my new clients for opportunities. I did all this not only as part of the job but to further my own development and force myself into a new area.
I won’t deny I was nervous at times, and worried I would say something that showed my inexperience, but ultimately it paid off. When I got to meet clients, I came out knowing significantly more about their products, messaging and values than with those I had only read up on. In terms of the industry, I got a better understanding of what was being looked for from my outreach than I would have reading hundreds of news stories.
All this to say, it’s ok to be nervous when entering a new industry in PR. However, the best solution is to just go for it. Challenge yourself and shoot above what you think you are capable of – this is the fast track to developing your knowledge and skills. Jump into the deep end of the pool and make sure you learn to swim instead of sink.