Teaching and mentoring your team

Posted on: 2012-10-15 in How To   |   Tagged: mentoring pr account management pr account manager teaching a skill

This post is an excerpt from the PR Account Manager's Handbook. Click here to download the entire series as an ebook.  By @TopLineFounder.

As an account manager, you’re going to need to pass on all the worldly PR know-how you’ve accumulated through your career to those just entering the profession, who will no doubt be eagerly hanging on your every word, and absorbing everything you say like a sponge. And if you believe all that, you’re just the type of twat this article is aimed at. 

The truth is that there are many ways to teach something new, and in a busy office environment your objective is usually going to be to get them to learn the skill or technique confidently as quickly as possible without making them hate you. Here’s what’s worked for me in the past:

  1. Get them to research it themselves first. If someone has gone to the trouble of trying to understand the subject on their own, you are starting from a much better place than if you come in cold with your wisdom.
  2. Get them to explain it to you. Find out how much they’ve learned on their own by asking them to talk you through the subject.
  3. Identify gaps in their understanding. Go through what they got right and what they got wrong and fill in the gaps. Give them the opportunity to ask questions and make sure you answer them in detail.
  4. Give them an example to do themselves. There’s no better way to learn than by doing. Set your trainee a task (real-life is always preferable to a made-up task).
  5. Rather than jumping straight in (and going off on the inevitable tangent), ask them to come back with the process they will follow and the estimated time they will spend. Run through this with them and point out elements that will likely waste time or take them off in the wrong direction. 
  6. Set a mid-way catch-up to provide feedback. Rather than dumping the whole task on them (let’s face it, the result will almost certainly need a lot of work), ask them to tell you when they’re half way through and go through what they’ve got. This way you can prevent any major tangents.
  7. Go through the results together and get them to make changes. Once they’re done with their first attempt, make sure you sit down together and assess the outcome. Where possible, get them to make the changes (don’t fall into the trap of doing it yourself because it’s easier and quicker that way – this will be quicker in the short term, but you’ll face the same problems next time this task hits their tasklist.
  8. Create a final version and explain the changes you made – so that they get your reasoning.
  9. Provide feedback on what they did well and what they did poorly. Be sure to highlight the positive and be supportive!
  10. Get their feedback. They might have some good ideas on how to improve on the method you have just taught them. Be open to these and you could learn something yourself!


Hungry for more? Download the Account Manager's Handbook in its entirety by clicking here.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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