[the bottom rung] bec brown, public relations agency director

Welcome to the ultimate hub for expert advice to help you get your big break (+ move up the ladder). This week I’m getting inspired on The Bottom Rung by…

photoBec Brown – Agency Director of Bec Brown Communications

Climbing the ladder

Then: Bec began her career as an entertainer after studying classical voice at the Adelaide Conservatorium. After touring around Australia and Europe singing in cover bands, cabaret shows and clubs with DJs and her own jazz band, she landed back in Sydney aged 25 and realised a singing career wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be. Her next step? Enrolling in a media and communication degree online.

Now:  After following her heart and landing her dream job at Universal Music (where she worked for five years), Bec launched her own PR agency – Bec Brown Communications – and couldn’t be happier. Not only are they one of the hardest working agencies in the country, but they have loads of amazing long-term clients, such as ABC For Kids, Australian Radio Network, Bliss Sanctuary For Women in Bali, The Wiggles and Universal Music./

Always dreamed of making it in the PR world? You don’t want to miss Bec’s world-class advice. 

Take the good with the bad
One of my bosses lost his licence for six months so I became his chauffeur, which meant picking him up for work each day, dropping him home and sometimes taking him to meetings. It wasn’t always convenient but, in exchange, he gave me a really cool car to drive during summer, which meant rooftop-down-beach-weekends cruising around with my girlfriends.

Bec Brown Communications staff with Wiggles original and newMake a plan
I now know a plan is vital for success. When I was younger, I never really sat down and wrote out a plan of what was important to me, why it was important, how that could turn into a career, and then the steps to make it happen.

Ask for advice
Before, I never asked for help or advice. Half the reason was because I thought I already knew EVERYTHING (don’t we all?) but I also didn’t want to bother anyone. Now I know most people love sharing their experiences to make others’ journeys easier and more pleasant.

Nerves are normal (yes, really!)
It’s okay to feel like you don’t know how to do something. It’s okay to feel anxious and nervous. It’s okay to think that it’s never going to happen for you. But don’t ever let it stop you from going out and doing it.

Go above and beyond
Stay late and stuff those envelopes. Sit at the computer and tirelessly update databases and reports. Listen a lot. And only after you’ve truly listened, ask questions.

Stay flexible
Get used to early mornings! You might be accompanying a client to a breakfast TV or radio interview or assessing what’s in today’s news so you’ll need to get a jump-start on the day by getting up early. You’ll also need to keep up with your emails while you’re out and about, so get used to being on your phone even more than you are now (unbelievable, right?)

Stay realistic about your expectations (but know when enough is enough)
There’s no reason to put up with crap, but be careful about what you define as crap.
–  Doing huge mail-outs day after day is not crap.
– Sometimes staying back to finish a project and missing the start of drinks with the girls is not crap. It’s a reality of the industry.
– But, having a boss who takes joy in belittling you in front of other staff is crap.

Bec Brown & The Voice winner Harrison CraigEven the worst boss can teach you great skills
For fear of my life (or, at least, my pay check), I learnt how to have meticulous attention to detail, the importance of note-taking, ensuring I follow up every pitch and the importance of good grooming. I also learnt how NOT to treat junior staff, and this will stay with me for life!

Don’t be afraid to broaden your focus
If you want to work in PR and an opportunity comes up in marketing, consider taking it. You’ll end up working with the company’s PR department or agency anyway, and can offer to help out on projects where there’s crossover.

Do your research
If you’ve personally heard nothing but intern horror stories from more than five sources about a particular company or boss, then you will probably hate it. But if you know you’re going to pick up invaluable experience and contacts while you’re doing it, it may still be worth it…

The golden rules
Be considerate, kind and respectful to everyone. The person whose toes you step on today could be connected to the ass you’re kissing tomorrow. PR is all about relationships and research. Read, watch and listen to as many magazines, news sites, radio and TV shows as possible.

Bec BrownTake initiative
Sometimes you’ve just got to step up. Think past your current role and analyse how what you do can affect the big picture. Work a little bit harder, go beyond your job description – you never know where that may lead you.

Be yourself
Don’t try and be a certain person just to fit in. It’s okay, the business contacts you’re trying to bond with will be just fine with you whether it’s over a juice or coffee during the week or boozing and schmoozing at clubs. But if you’re really struggling to be yourself and can’t find common ground, just remember that everyone likes someone who does their job well!

Thanks again to Bec for sharing her advice! If you’d love to find out more, say hello on Twitter, on Facebook or on her website.

<The Bottom Rung series is inspired by the release of my debut novel THE INTERN (HarperCollins, out now) and my desire to ‘pay it forward’ with career advice and tips on climbing the ladder. Click here to read more about THE INTERN. Come say hello at Facebook and Twitter– distractions welcome.>