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Photo from "Coffee in the mountains" tumblr

Photo from “Coffee in the mountains” tumblr

Yesterday evening I attended a PR workshop at my friends Allison and Pat’s agency, AM:PM PR. A local TV news reporter was brought in for a discussion on the ever-changing media industry as well as a conversation on how to effectively pitch reporters.

Truth be told, this is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve been eager for opportunities to learn, to grow and to practice. In my current job, I’ve had loads of practice, but very little success. Being the perfectionist that I am, I’ve struggled with my inability to gain as much media coverage as I’ve wanted at times.

Enter today’s workshop. As the reporter talked about pitching, he brought up so many great ideas I’d never thought of. Tips and strategies, galore!

Suddenly, without really thinking I found myself raising my hand, asking a question and presenting my current struggle. Looking back, I can’t believe I was so honest, so vulnerable. But then, the most glorious thing happened. In a room full of PR pros (some of them my friends) we began unpacking my problems and identifying why I’d previously been unsuccessful. They were so kind and so gracious. It felt like I was wrapped in a box and each person began ripping open the box, allowing light to shine in until all the flaps were open, the packaging peanuts began spilling out and I suddenly realized all I had to do was climb out, one foot at a time.

Real deal–being a young professional is scary. Real scary. There’s a whole lot of “fake it till you make it” going on. When I get in the car at the end of every day and realize I didn’t didn’t screw everything up, I’m both shocked and relieved. I’m more of an insecure young professional than I realized.

Here’s the trick.

Don’t go at it alone.

Find a professional mentor. Join a professional society. Attend workshops. Network. All these things will build you a community that will care and support you along the way. You’ll be surprised by the amount of people who are further along the road than you are who are very willing to come alongside you and help you along the way.

After the workshop, the reporter graciously took time to answer my many follow-up questions and was tremendously encouraging with each piece of advice. As he left, he shook my hand and looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Go get ’em, kid.”