Jessie Barrett of lotus823Perseverance, fortitude and a serious dose of flexibility are the make or break traits for an often unforgiving industry.

Allow me to put my existentialist hat on and ask an outrageously bold question: Why am I still doing this? Now bear with me just a second. You should know that I absolutely love my job. I’m proud of the work my team does every day and working at lotus823 is among the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in this industry.

That said, there comes a time when every PR person asks that question, because it’s darn hard out there.

This is an industry that, if you let it, can chew you up and spit you out. As someone who’s seen a few more downs than ups during my first few years of agency-life, I’d like to offer the little bit of advice I can to the young guns, pit bulls and dreamers out there hoping to survive a career in PR.

Words to come back to when the long days and hiccups leave you asking “why?”:

1. Don’t take things personally. Develop thick skin. You’ll meet all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions working at PR and marketing agencies. Everyone has something to teach you, whether through your own mistakes or from theirs. Constructive criticism is one of the best ways to learn. Keep an open mind and consider feedback from every angle. For more on this topic, I suggest reading the second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic, “The Four Agreements.”

The Office2. Be your CONFIDENT self. Fake it until you make it – sort of. Sometimes the only way to move ahead is to jump. Take on challenges and don’t be afraid to do something you haven’t done before. Ask questions and become BFFs with Google. Believe in yourself, because the only way to get to the next level is to try, and I promise you if you don’t think you can do it, no one else will either.

3. Remember to breathe. The long hours and demands of working at an agency have the potential to bring anyone down. Sometimes the only thing you can do is close your laptop, take a deep breath and come back to it tomorrow. I can often be heard saying “It’s PR not the ER!” (Because we’re not saving lives.)

So, when that dreaded “why?” question enters your mind, try to remember that you’re still doing this because you learn new things every day, you challenge yourself every day, and there’s never a dull moment.

This has been the first installment of Lessons from the Trenches (let’s call it LFTT from now on). I look forward to shining a light on this subject again in the future but, in the meantime, please share your PR agency survival tactics in the comments below!

All for now – JB

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