Back From Abroad: New Thoughts on the PR World I Thought I Knew

Time flies when you’re having fun. It also flies when you’re travelling nine countries and 17 cities in 56 days.  After two exquisitely eye-opening months abroad, I can honestly say I welcomed my return to Austin with open arms. A chaotic and life-changing few months turned out to be some of the most incredible and invaluable experiences that I’ll never forget. Graduation. Two months abroad. Full-time employment.  It’s been quite a ride! And I have no intention of getting off anytime soon. “What did you learn?” you might ask? Many of you have traveled the globe and discovered something completely unique from the person next to you on the plane, so I certainly don’t present my experiences with an elitist tone, but as an honest representation of my thoughts and feelings toward the journey as a whole.

From the many places I explored, people I met and food I ate, the most important thing I learned from my travels is this: Embrace the urge to see the world and try new things, but remember your roots and return home appreciating your life for all that it gives you, especially the people who make it worthwhile. If you were wondering, yes, I’m a cheeseball and a sap.

While I’ll always long for walking the narrow alleys of some far off destination, lying on an exotic beach, or hiking up to a beautiful view in some foreign countryside, I’m happily jumping into my newly minted PR career – that’s right, folks! You’re stuck with me hanging around Ketner Group for a while. What better way to return from a summer abroad? As my first blog post, I thought it might be fitting to highlight just a couple ideas that not only helped me get by in Europe but can apply to a successful career in PR as well.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The saying, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question,” holds true in this case (while on another note, I’m a believer that questions you already know the answer to are actually stupid). It’s easy and perfectly O.K. to be lost, in any sense of the word, but if you want to be found you’ll have to put in some old fashioned hard work. You may be surprised to hear this, but people genuinely DO want to offer their help! You’ve just got to learn to feel comfortable, and not like a failure, asking for it.

In a niche PR market such as retail technology, you need to be able to ask questions about your clients’ product, a new service, how that platform works, how this process brings about this result, etc. Don’t be afraid of looking silly or uninformed; asking a question now is better than facing a potentially costly, humiliating and probably avoidable mistake later. A good client knows this and is almost always happy to breakdown the details for you.

Resourcefulness is close to Godliness. Okay, so I may have muddled up that proverb, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true! From using shampoo as face wash and leave-in conditioner as body lotion, to putting my basic Spanish vocabulary to good use in the Czech Republic, I learned to get what I was looking for in the most random yet oddly effective ways.

PR is a field where thinking on your feet is an absolute necessity. Whether it’s a new take on a seemingly trite piece of information or a way to get more bang for your clients’ buck, resourcefulness is a key advantage to doing your job and doing it well. Not only can an inventive approach to your communications strategy keep your work spicy and irresistible (like the Tex-Mex I so desperately craved while away from Austin), it can save you and your clients valuable time and money in the long run. By using time and resources efficiently, you open up more hours that can be devoted to a social media ramp-up or a refreshing and productive brainstorming sesh that you previously had no time to explore.

After getting my degree in public relations and interning in the industry for a couple years, I thought I had a pretty accurate grasp on what the communications field was truly all about. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t, but what’s more important is to understand not only where public relations is now, but where it’s going. I’m still so green in this well-toiled field of PR, but I’m dying to see what’s next and plan to do my part advancing the industry and keeping Ketner Group pushing full speed ahead. I hope this post can inspire some of you do the same! Never give up on a successful career, but take any and every opportunity to travel – it might surprise you how you’ll be affected!

I’ll wrap things up with the Mark Twain quote my KG team members so thoughtfully decorated my desk with on my last day before jetting off to the other side of the pond:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Cheers to the next chapter, whatever you choose yours to be!