Reaching the tail-end of my 20s (the very tail-end), I’m at the stage where I spend a lot of time thinking not only about the direction of my life but my career. My obligatory quarter life crisis if you will.
In particular, I’ve begun to reflect on my career values – what’s important to me, what I want to achieve – and I’m struck by how significantly these have changed over the last few years.
I’ve enjoyed a varied and positively challenging retail management career for the best part of a decade. It has been filled with a lot of hard work, mutual learning, and the drive to keep trying new ways of working. Best of all it’s been generously populated with friendships that are both genuine and deep.
However, there’s been a longstanding and lingering need to exercise the part of me which is more creative than perhaps my retail role allowed. I love writing, dissecting the news and building upon my passion for working with people is important to me.
That’s why my attention turned to PR. It looked like an option where I could not only scratch my creative itch, but dive head-first into the pool of entrepreneurs and newsmakers who are generating the headlines I love to read.
On June 1st I took the leap and became Hot Tin Roof’s newest Account Exec.
This has been an exciting new challenge and the fast learning curve I’m on is both engaging and, honestly, quite fun. What I hadn’t expected is the surprising parallels between the industry I’ve left behind and the one I’m starting my journey in.
The skills I developed in my years of retail have served me well, and now they provide the ideal springboard as I enter the world of PR:
Rolling With The Punches
Notoriously fast-paced and high-pressure, sales retail is demanding work. Eking the best out of your team whilst handling both customer needs and your key business objectives is an essential juggling act of the job that requires skill.
PR moves to a similar beat. Keeping up on research tasks, writing briefs and sell-ins whilst pushing multiple projects forward is part of the perpetual plate-spinning act that the industry necessitates.
Adaptability and good organisational skills are key to success in both industries. This can mean a lot of pressure at times but I enjoy the energy that brings – the constant rolling with the punches – and this is something a career in PR provides in abundance.
Both retail and PR are people-driven industries and much hinges on how you set about building your professional relationships. Being able to articulate yourself both verbally and in writing is a solid foundation, but applying natural confidence and charisma will turn this soft skill into your biggest tool.
The ability to build a professional network is crucial for success in public relations. Years of selling my vision in retail to a variety of individuals, from those at the coalface all the way up to a global leadership team, have equipped me with a broad range of experiences to draw from.
Know Your Onions
Knowing more about a product than the person selling it to you can be frustrating. Much like consumers, not understanding or (worse) not knowing the key selling points of what you’re pedaling is understandably high on the list of journalists’ top peeves.
Whether it’s fast fashion or hot news, if there’s anything sales retail taught me it’s to know your product inside-out. Being able to speak about your subject matter with the confidence and ease of being well-researched guarantees that you’ll meet the needs of whoever’s listening.
Do The (Honest) Hustle
It doesn’t matter if you’re upselling end-of-season deadstock or pitching a distribution that could do with a bit of extra sparkle, being upfront, honest and true to the worth of your wares is paramount.
Both customers and journalists alike will sniff out spin which has the potential to diminish a relationship. A little hustle is part and parcel of the sales game, but I’ve learned that it’s worth more nurturing an honest reputation that you might come to depend on in the future than pursuing the quick win.
I recognise that the path from shoes to news isn’t enormously well-trodden. But it is indicative of how you can take a polished repertoire of transferable skills and, when given the opportunity, apply them to a fresh and engaging challenge.
The footsteps I’m taking into the world of public relations have been informed by the wealth of experience that my retail career has afforded me. Best of all, they are the same footsteps that are leading me out of my quarter life crisis.
Remember, you can get in touch with any of the cats at Hot Tin Roof here.