It’s time to revive the age of the mentor

It's high time the PR and media industry remembered the importance of learning from - and eventually becoming - mentors, writes PR consultant Katie Clift.

If you’ve been around the media, marketing and PR industry long enough, you’ll have come across well-meaning, sometimes slightly over-enthusiastic advice to get a mentor, or become a mentor.

For years I thought this encouragement was completely cliché and overrated. When starting to build your media career, who has time for a mentor? Really?

Years ago – and it’s the same today – the media industry in Australia was cut-throat. Even if you had time to invest in meeting with, and being developed by, someone more senior than you, would anyone be willing to give up their time and industry secrets to help?

I’m happy to say my attitude has changed a lot over the last decade. In fact, I now invest a good portion of my time in mentoring businesses, and up-and-coming Australian PR professionals online, from my home base in Greece.

Why the change? Over the years I realised that a great deal of the invaluable opportunities, knowledge, experience, reputation and profile that I gained was because my mentors (even those I didn’t formally classify as ‘mentors’) gave me the time of day.

It was a mentor who first donned me with headphones and switched on a radio mic, watching me stumble through my very first attempt to craft an on-air break for a daytime radio show. I’ll never forget the nerves, the shock, or the support I received for what was a very basic spot… trust me, VERY basic.

It was another mentor who let me sit in – countless times – on his number-one rating breakfast show to learn the ins-and-outs of broadcast. He never held back his best advice, and always pushed for progressive career opportunities for me. He answered every one of my questions, adjusted my attitude and helped refine my skills.

It was a mentor who reminded me that developing a niche is powerful – that I didn’t have to try and be everything to everyone. She helped me focus on becoming one of the best in my field. It’s what helped me launch and grow my specified, focused career in PR.

I’ve worked with radio announcer, radio producer, PR manager and business mentors. When I look back, I can identify their pivotal role in shaping my professional career and even my personal outlook on life.

I’ve discovered that mentoring is one of the most vital investments we can make. It doesn’t have to be a cliché coffee meeting or formal boardroom discussion – it can be fluid, spontaneous, focused and fun.

We all need to be better mentors. We shouldn’t be afraid to pass on our very best learnings, experience and advice to those just starting out in their careers – or indeed, our peers.

Mentoring is arguably one of the greatest investments we can make to ensure the future success of our industry.

When we share what we know, without holding back, we give people the opportunity to walk our paths – a little, or a lot, better than we did – and as a result we strengthen media, marketing and PR across our nation.


mento is an international PR consultant, living and working in Athens, Greece. Follow her adventures at twitter.com/katieclift,@katieclift on Instagram or at katieclift.com.


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