5 tips to find the right PR mentor by CompliMentor's co-founder Deeptie Sethi

The life of a public relations professional is no less than an edge-of-the-seat thriller. It has all the ingredients – there is action, drama, suspense, and a heavy dose of chaos. I remember, one the first PR lesson we were taught in this field was the importance of wine and cheese evenings. Hobnobbing with the right contacts was crucial, and networking meant not just an exchange of information, but learning from seniors and was your window to grapevines. But a lot has changed since then.

Over the years, the PR field has evolved manifold and has seen significant metamorphosis. Today, it is more than a simple strategy. It is a foundational pillar to build corporate and brand reputation. The lines between marketing, public relations, digital, promotion have blurred. They all have converged into communications and as a profession, every move is now measurable.

Many people land into the communications profession by chance, often after dabbling in other job profiles, but despite the huge influx, the growth of PR schools in India has been negligible. The popular ones are still holding firm ground. However, I believe that the skills needed to ace this job can be honed with time. More than textbook knowledge, learning on the job plays a huge role.

Mentorship is crucial for Professional Growth

You have to evolve as a professional to stay ahead in this ever-evolving communications world, and one of the best ways to do so is by aligning yourself with a person you admire within your field. Learning the craft from experienced colleagues and mentors is a big masterclass - they can help younger aspirants grow by offering career advice, introducing them to the right people and opportunities, and sharing tricks of the trade. I also feel that one can learn from people with good character no matter what their age or experience is.

In my career spanning over two decades, I was fortunate to get guidance from my peers, seniors and sometimes juniors too. My mentors helped me expand the breadth of my writing, helped me build my leadership skills, guided me with books that were relevant and be respectful by giving creative people time and space to excel.

Deeptie Sethi with the iconic BBC anchor Tim Sebastian

I was privileged to have the chance to work alongside many inspirational leaders like BBC World’s HARDtalk presenter and journalist Tim Sebastian. On the sidelines of innumerable media interactions, he gave me invaluable tips about the wealth of fine research to deliver a great interview. From Alan Mulally, the former president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, I learnt the value of being a humble yet inspiring figure. Renowned new reporter Nik Gowing shared stories about sustaining credible news – prioritizing getting news right over getting it first. Then there were other colleagues and counterparts, each of them was a powerhouse of ideas, creativity and enduring excellence.

Mentoring : A Change Catalyst

Mentors don’t care about where and how you began; they focus on how you can go forward if they see potential in you. Mentoring has the power to influence positive change. A study quotes that those who are mentored are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions and because of the beneficial role of mentorships and 90 percent of mentees show an interest in mentoring others later in their lives.

Fellow communicators who are starting their careers or are nervous about their career because of the pandemic, don’t shy away to find your confidant.

Here are 5 tips to begin your mentor-mentee master learning:

Find Your Mentor: Finding a mentor is a daunting task, but through some research, you can identify the right person. Look within your communications field and start taking note of the people you admire. Observe their work and ask yourself if they have the skills you want to learn. Do they command the respect of the professionals in your industry? Are they known for supporting the idea of mentoring? Are they accessible?

Leverage Social Networks: On platforms like LinkedIn, keep an eye on interesting profiles, domain experts and opinion leaders. Participate in online discussions and try and get noticed with your point of view. And who knows, you might get to meet or work with them one day.

Seek Veteran Communicators’ Advice: If your mentor happens to be your boss and has moved to a different company or you have taken a new job, do stay in touch. Never shy away to take their opinion off-the record and share your work. They know your strengths and weakness.

Join Industry Associations: Join or attend initiatives by professional groups like PRCAI, PCI, FCC to grow your network. In my global role in the U.S., a handbook Public Relations Society of America turned out to be a great asset to find peer contacts.

Embrace Mentoring Forums: Platform such as CompliMentors that curates mentoring relationships comes handy. With more than 30 growth mentors, you will find several passionate communications and other domain experts who are willing to pass on the knowledge.

Remember, mentorship is reciprocal. It may seem like a partnership that only serves the less experienced colleague. But the truth is that it also helps the person in the leadership role. Interestingly, it is an achievement tool that can help you better your own craft and then becomes an art that you can share with someone, someday.

It’s never too late to bring mentorship to grow your communications career!

Deeptie Sethi is a global communications leader and co-founder CompliMentors, a purpose driven platform that curates mentoring relationships.

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