One thing I have come to learn in my experience in public relations is that you don’t know where this field is going to take you. Never having been particularly interested in math or science, I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing public relations in the engineering sector. However, doing so has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
I serve as an outreach coordinator for Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT). That’s a design team made up of mechanical and electrical engineers who participate in an automotive engineering competition called EcoCAR2. The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, challenges students to reduce the environmental impact of the 2013 Chevy Malibu.
You will likely one day find yourself in the position of working with professionals in other disciplines, especially if you are working at an agency with clients representing a multitude of industries. Follow these tips to bridge the gap when working with professionals in other disciplines.
It is important to respect each other’s disciplines and work to have an effective relationship. Respect the knowledge of other professionals and collaborate to enhance each other’s work.
Minds can often clash, so work to see the other side from an objective stance.
We are communicators for a reason: it’s our strong point. Oftentimes when you need something written, it is easier to do so after talking about the topic with your colleague rather than having to translate written jargon and technical terms.
Don’t forget to keep in mind resources from your colleague’s discipline and share information to come up with best solution.
Jargon from other industries can be difficult to understand. A lot of engineering terms go over my head, so the easiest way to eliminate confusion is to ask my colleague to explain them in plain terms. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for clarification.
How do you work with clients in industries you are less familiar with? What advice do you have for public relations professionals working in unfamiliar industries?
Sarah Kilbourne is the president of PRSSA at Virginia Tech. She is graduating in May 2012 with a dual degree in public relations and French.