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YoPro Q&A: The Perks of Having a Mentor

Getting started in PR can be daunting and intimidating without the proper resources or connections. This is why it’s imperative to seek out valuable guidance and resources, such as OCPRSA’s Young Professionals (YoPro) group, which provides a helping hand to recent graduates and young professionals looking to advance their careers in Public Relations.

YoPro offers an incredible mentorship program that connects participants with less than five year’s experience with knowledgeable PR professionals who are eager to share their practical wisdom. We met with Trevor McKay, a YoPro mentee new to the world of social media marketing, to learn about the many perks of working with his mentor, Mike Delgado (Social Media Specialist at Experian).

OCPRSA: What attracted you to YoPro’s mentorship program?

TREVOR MCKAY: I was working for an online university, CalSouthern, and had been promoted to a marketing role in social media to help build brand awareness and generate leads for the company. My background was in Film & Media Studies, so I needed quality advice from someone who understood how to create effective campaigns that would produce results. When I discovered YoPro’s mentorship program, I was ecstatic! The committee helped connect me with Mike and I could not be happier with all that I learned from him.

OCPRSA: What’s been the most helpful thing about being a mentee so far?

TREVOR MCKAY: The most helpful thing about being a mentee was the ability to receive professional advice relevant to my current job. I was able to quickly piece together the skills necessary to perform my daily tasks with excellence and improve upon the knowledge I already possessed.

OCPRSA: What advice would you give to people just starting out in PR or social media marketing?

TREVOR MCKAY: First, I would highly recommend OCPRSA’s YoPro membership. Not only is the mentorship program fantastic, but the networking events and workshops help build connections that can lead to future work and a better understanding of current industry trends. Secondly, I would advise anyone looking to start a career in PR to ask for help or advice when it’s needed; don’t be afraid to seek out PR veterans, colleagues or peers to ask questions, as you might be surprised by their generosity and eagerness to help those who are in the infant stages of their career.

OCPRSA: Why did you decide to become a YoPro mentor?

MIKE DELGADO: Mentorship is an honor and privilege. It’s a chance for me to share my failures (and things I’ve learned along the way) to hopefully help others avoid my pitfalls. It’s also a great opportunity to build a great relationship with someone. I learn a ton from those I get to mentor and always blessed for the opportunity.

OCPRSA: What are your top three keys to success for those looking to get into PR?

MIKE DELGADO: You need to have a passion for communications and storytelling – and hopefully an interest in the business(es) you’re supporting. If you’re not interested in the work (or people you work with), you probably won’t enjoy your job (and that can lead to boredom and/or burnout). And, even worse, you’ll probably produce suboptimal work that you won’t be proud of.

You also need to be a hyper-curious and regularly test new ways of telling stories. Don’t assume that the current comms strategies and process used in the past should be continued today. Question processes politely and push back if a specific bureaucratic procedure is stunting an innovative idea or test. Remember innovation means that you don’t have a case study to refer to. Ask for permission to test ideas out. Experimentation is vital to developing fresh, creative work.

And don’t forget that patience and grit are essential qualities for anyone working on important campaigns. Yes, your campaigns must be data-driven – but just because you’re not seeing immediate success doesn’t mean the campaign is a failure. It takes time to start a movement so keep pushing on those projects you believe in.

OCPRSA: Would you recommend the mentorship program? Why or why not?

MIKE DELGADO: Highly recommend that more people get involved as both mentors and mentees. It’s a chance to grow, be challenged and build new relationships. The mentor/mentee relationship benefits both individuals in a variety of ways.

  1. Les Goldberg

    If you are new to the profession, or if you want to learn how to take the next step in your career, having experienced mentorship is an absolute must for your to-do list. In my case, it was invaluable. It is like transferring from textbook learning in school to the real world through the wisdom of seasoned professionals who have literally “been there, done that.”

    During my early career in both journalism and public relations, I have had the pleasure of learning strategies, skills and career tips from some of the top PR people in the business, including those who worked for companies and organizations like Delta Airlines (crisis communications), Carnation Company and NBC (consumer), the Los Angeles Zoo and U.S. Army (government), the Archdiosis of Los Angeles (secular) and many others.

    The value of mentorship is something that I have held dear to my heart to this day. I am proud to say that most of my mentees are enjoying very successful careers and frequently come back to me for advice about work and life. I encourage all of you to take advantage of the OC/PRSA mentorship program and especially seek out mentors who share your career goals and interests.

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