The 3 Ideal Types of PR Mentors, and How to Find Yours

May 1, 2015

[ikon images/corbis]
[ikon images/corbis]

“People come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you’ll know exactly what to do.”

I read this “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul” quote as a moody, melodramatic teenager, struggling with life crises like my parents keeping me home from the cool-kids, no-adults-at-home parties.

“But Mom — everyone’s going!”

We all know how that argument ends. Fortunately I grew up and out of that trying stage to realize that, when tweaked, I can use this mantra to find professional PR mentors.

Experts say that finding a mentor is key to personal career growth. But to really reach your career goals and continuously push your own limits, I’ve found that one mentor isn’t enough.

You need three.

Yes, I said three — but don’t panic. First, let me share with you what I’ve learned firsthand about the ideal types of mentors and where to find yours.

1. The mentor from afar

Think of the PR blogs that you read, the other professionals you follow on social media or the expert speakers you’ve heard.

Who inspires and impresses you? Whom do you learn the most from? Whom do you relate to most?

That’s your mentor from afar. To learn and grow the most from this mentor, read her content from all channels regularly. Retweet her, leave comments, ask questions and, at some point, find a way to tell her just how much her content helps you. (A specific example of how you’ve used her advice is a great addition.)

While she may not realize she’s a mentor, she’ll appreciate the kind words and will help you when she can.

2. The supervisor mentor

You can also learn much from a supervisor at work. Just as with the first type of mentor, find the person who you think is the most impressive and relatable within your company. (It doesn’t have to be the person you report to daily.)

Ask if he’s willing to mentor you. Share why you think that he is the right mentor for you. List some bullet points of what you’d like to learn from him. And give some options for how this mentorship experience will work (biweekly or monthly meetings, for example).

With this supervisor mentor, the responsibility for meeting agendas, setting the date/time and providing any follow-up, all falls on you — the mentee.

Your mentor is taking time out of his busy schedule to help you, so bring him a coffee, a cake pop or a thank-you gift card once in a while.

3. The younger mentor

PR pros of all ages and levels can benefit from having this third type of mentor: the younger mentor. This is someone you work with — it could even be an intern — who’s your junior and wired into that up-and-coming demographic, as well as its popular technologies.

As with the first mentor, this mentorship doesn’t have to be public or agreed upon. In fact, it may be better to keep it to yourself to avoid any ego-driven conflicts in the office.

Just locate the savviest young pro you work with and take time to ask her questions, hear what she talks about with friends (especially as it relates to social media) and incorporate those learnings into your client work.

And as you engage with this younger pro, you may become a mentor for her, too.

Mentors are a staple in the PR profession as they push you beyond your limits, expose you to new ways of thinking and guide you on your career path. When you multiply those benefits by three, your future will be limitless, your thinking will be unconventional and your road to success will be exhilarating.

Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a content marketer and journalist in the New York City area. She’s the founder of Stephanie Vermillion Studio, and you can follow her work at @StephanieVermillionStudio on Instagram.


Christel K. Hall says:

Stephanie - thanks for a great article on a good topic. I have been fortunate enough to have all three types of mentors (sometimes informally) during my career. I would venture to say there's also a 4th type of mentor who might not reside afar or at your place of work, but within PRSA or other trade association or network. The Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA actively seeks out industry mentors for those PRSSA students who wish to connect, network by phone and email, meet for coffee, and sometimes ask those questions or discuss those situations that might be a bit 'sticky' to share with a mentor at work when they are directly work related. All in professional confidence, of course.

May 15, 2015

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