“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” – Daniel J. Boorstin
I remember when I was young the first thing I ever wanted to be was a fireman (surprise, surprise) – I think every young boy goes through that phase. Then in the early high school years I wanted to be a computer engineer, because I thought I’d just sit around all day playing with screwdrivers and microchips. Plus I fancied myself building a cool-looking Terminator type thingy.
When I got to my HSC year, all those ideas went out the window and I was genuinely stumped with my career direction. But fast forward a few years and here I am, about to graduate with a PR degree. Looking back, I’m not too sure what made me initially want to get into public relations, but ask me now and I’ll give you the following 5 reasons:
1. Fast-Paced Environment
I read a recent study that said PR was the 2nd most stressful job in America. Yeap, just one below commercial pilots and ABOVE photojournalists, corporate executives and paramedics! Who would want to be in a job that has that much stress associated with it? Well, me. At the moment I work at DHL Express, a logistics company, and my daily routine goes a little something like this: bored, bored, bored, bored … DEADLINES! PRIORITIES! FOR F**K’S SAKE WHERE’S THE PAPERWORK?! SHUTTLE CLEARANCE RIGHT NOW! … bored, bored, bored, bored.
Take a guess which part I love the most?
That middle bit right there. And no, it’s not because there’s a lot of profanity involved, but rather it’s because I thrive in that fast-paced and energetic environment. Just reading some day-to-day activities of some PR professionals, it seems to me that their day is packed full of things to do. From monitoring the media to reviewing current campaigns to writing copy, it seems as though there are few schedules more hectic than that of someone working in PR.
2. Blend of Everything
PR is like a combination of jobs that are media-related. When you’re thinking up of new and creative ways to promote your client via different channels, that’s a form of running an advertising campaign. When you’re working at maintaining a consistent and strong image, that right there is brand management. Writing up media releases? Well any PR teachers can tell you that the best media releases are the ones that make it straight into the newspapers – so that’s journalism. Also, pitching that media release to a busy journalist, along with thousands of other PR professionals? Isn’t there a little bit of salesmanship involved in that?
Bottom line: if you’re working in PR, you better be equipped with the skills involved, which brings me to my next point …
3. Skill Set Requirements
Bring a PR professional means you have to be a “Jack of all trades.” Now I know that term isn’t always complimentary, since the other half of the quote is “master of none,” but in the PR context, I can’t think of a better description. In my opinion, it takes a special type of person to work in PR. Think about what they have to do: manage client accounts, review media coverage, deal with busy (and sometimes grumpy) journalists, develop campaign strategies, create presentations, co-ordinate with marketing and management departments, identify publicity opportunities, read, write and edit copy, and of course, manage their endless social media channels.
Not that easy is it?
According to Jane Johnston and Clara Zawawi, there are over 20 potential roles and areas that you can specialise in the PR industry (Johnston & Zawawi 2004, p. 8). What I love about this is you can find something that you’re passionate about and work in that area.
If you want to incorporate marketing, advertising and public relations in your career, get into integrated marketing communications. Interested in politics? Public affairs and lobbying is for you. Want to go corporate? There’s internal communications and financial relations. You’re good at planning and organising, then event management is the way to go. You love getting your hands dirty? Then specialise in crisis management or lobbying.
Whatever it is you love, you’ll be able to find an area in PR to work.
But all the above reasons don’t compare to the biggest reason why I chose PR as a career – I love writing. Ever since I was young I’ve been writing. Back in year 5, I’d finish all my other work early so that when other kids were working on division problems, I’d be secretly writing out a story. That passion for words hasn’t left, and if anything, it’s intensified now that I’ve discovered how much I’ve developed as a writer. Business reports, news story, reviewing music, books and films, blogging, writing feature articles, media releases; I’ve tried it all and I love it all. Craig Pearce of Strategic Communication once told me something:
““Write as much as you can. It is very difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear when it comes to writing. You generally either have it or you really have to work extra hard. And even if your writing skills are silky like Cesc Fabregas’ dribbling, you still need to work at it.”
That really inspired me because for a long time I didn’t know where my writing could take me. Now I’ve got PR and this blog to refine my style. I know writing isn’t the only element of PR – I think we’ve established that – but dare I say it; it’s probably the most important. Agreed?
Why did you choose PR?