Rich Dalrymple, Dallas Cowboys spokesperson and vice president of public relations and communications, recently spoke to eager PR students at the PRSSA Regional Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In an earlier post, I shared a typical week in the life of Dallas Cowboys public relations.
Below are some of the tips Dalrymple offered during his presentation. While some suggestions are relative to PR students seeking a career in sports communications, others are timeless and can be applied to anyone working in PR.
1. Study the careers of other public relations professionals. Knowing where other people have been can help you figure out where you want to go with your career.
2. Hone your writing skills. “If you can write, you can do any job,” explained Dalrymple. He believes this is true as writing teaches you how to organize your thoughts, organize your ideas, and structure them in a way that others can understand. This is especially true in public relations. You can write speeches for the CEO, communicate messages to stockholders, explain policies to employees, etc. If you can write and communicate well, you are able to organize other aspects of your life and business, too.
3. Work at your university’s communications office, university sports department, official events, etc. If you can’t do that, then find an off-campus job as an undergrad. You need real-world experience BEFORE your senior year. I was glad to hear him reinforce this as I’ve been advising PR students that if they’ve waited until their senior year to begin job searching and networking, then they’re already behind the eight ball!
4. Find a mentor. There is no substitute for shadowing pros and riding their coattails, so to speak. If you’re lucky enough to “find Superman,” Dalrymple said, hold onto his cape and you may find yourself taken to heights you’ve never been and maybe never could have on your own. He uses himself as an example, saying that he hung onto one of his early bosses and mentor, making him in 1990 the youngest NFL PR guy at the age of 30! He did admit that luck also helps.
5. Find what you do well. Put yourself in a position to showcase those skills and attributes and a positive impression. Dalrymple also stressed that you shouldn’t be afraid to start small—it’s okay if your first job(s) are not “sexy.” Find the decision-makers and get to know them and what they like. Dalrymple went on to say that so much of what you learn in public relations crosses over to advertising, marketing, sales, and other communications disciplines. Yes, he said PR is sales – you’re selling ideas, strategies, views, concepts.
6. Read a newspaper every day. Online or in print doesn’t really matter, but read ALL the sections – not just sports, or just local, or wherever your interest lies. Read every section, even international. You need to see big picture of the news and world to know how and where you fit.
7. Figure out your dream job. Start mapping a path to get you there. He said “fantasize, and then strategize.”
What PR career building tips would you add to the list? Please share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas by leaving a comment below.