Stepping out of my comfort zone into the world of B2B PR

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Once I knew I had secured my very first graduate job at Nielsen McAllister, I made it my mission to research everything a B2B Account Executive job could entail. That way, when I arrived on my first day, I would feel fully prepared and wouldn’t have to step out of my comfort zone.

I knew I’d probably be expected to write press releases, liaise with journalists, attend plenty of meetings. What I hadn’t prepared for was all the fantastic unspoken ‘extras’ that come with a career in B2B PR, including a whole lot of stepping out of my beloved ‘comfort zone’.

Within just two weeks, I was already on my way to Warwickshire to attend my very first trade show with two of my colleagues, supporting our client on its stand. APF is the UK’s largest forestry trade show, with over 22,000 visitors. As you can imagine, I suddenly felt very ignorant when we arrived, as I hadn’t even known that trade shows like this existed! I was in awe of all the fantastic forestry charities, publications, and businesses.

Although it was initially quite a throw into the deep-end and a huge ‘unknown’, I was so pleased to be trusted enough within my first couple of weeks in the job to go and represent our client at a show (and get my very first taste of networking).

My third week in B2B PR rolls around and yet another trade show event. This time, the PPMA Show at the NEC in Birmingham. It provided the perfect opportunity to build my knowledge of our target publications and meet some of the journalists behind the email addresses that I had already been sending press releases to.

Simon W set me the task of going and introducing myself to a couple of our journalist friends, but when he asked me to wander out into the vast arena of trade stalls all alone, I was quietly terrified. Within minutes I soon realised that Nielsen McAllister’s relationship with many journalists is so long-standing and well established that many of them acted as if they knew me anyway. Certainly, some were already aware of my appointment!

All of the people I met congratulated me on my new role and were pleased to tell me about their publications – so, although at the time, all I wanted to do was hide behind Simon and watch from afar, I really needed that nudge out of my comfort zone to realise that the world of B2B PR really isn’t that terrifying, and people are really friendly.

I returned to the office from my second trade show, third week in the job, feeling very accomplished and with plenty of new LinkedIn connections and faces-to-names.

Since then I’ve played laser tag, attended a summit on environmental packaging, litter-picked around the city with the local council and pumpkin picked with Molly, joined the Nielsen McAllister Social Committee (where we plan fun staff events for each quarter) alongside so many other great things. Many of which I would never have imagined I’d be doing in a B2B PR agency…moreover, I’d have never done any of these things if I hadn’t initially stepped out of my comfort zone and turned up to my interview to join the NM team.

I’m now (just over) two months in, and my nervousness and uncertainty in doing any of these things already seems long behind me. I am building relationships with my colleagues, clients, and many journalists every day and have already learnt so much in my first couple of months. The idea of learning so much more is no longer completely nerve-wracking, but exciting and promising!

I can safely say that most of these learnings and wonderful experiences have come from simply stepping out of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t even be living in Derby right now (a city I knew very little of 6 months ago) had I listened to those niggling voices and opted for what I felt was predictable and ordinary.

And whilst trying something new can feel extremely scary a lot of the time – I would say, go for it, because I did and I’m yet to regret it…

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