College students across the country are about to embark on the annual tradition of pounding energy drinks and coffee and working around the clock to finish their papers and study for exams.
At the same time, seniors are worrying about landing their first job, while underclassmen compete for summer internships to boost their resumes.
It is with these job-seeking students in mind that I offer the following five signs that you are meant to work in PR:
1. You remain cool under pressure.
From a crisis involving a client to the hotel mailroom losing the press materials for a trade show, PR people deal with the unexpected nearly every day.
Sometimes you have to be creative: I was once at an event and looked in the “event bag” to find no tape to hang the signs directing attendees to the sign-in table, event room, etc. After looking high and low for a place to buy some tape and coming up empty, I bought a few packs of gum—the event staff all started chewing and stuck the signs to the wall with gum.
If you are the kind of person who can roll with the punches and find solutions, PR is for you. If you are more inclined to yell “Fire” and run down the hall, you may want a less hectic workplace.
2. You are a smart phone addict.
You can tweet, text, and talk on the phone at the same time—and yes, you actually do talk on your phone and know when a live conversation is necessary and when an email or text is OK.
3. You are the resident proofreader.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Samantha on “Sex and the City” lied to you. Most PR people spend more time writing or editing than they do attending swanky parties with socialites and celebrities. To achieve success in PR, you need the ability to identify a good story and concisely articulate it in writing and verbally.
4. You are a media junkie.
You know the most shared YouTube videos and all about George Zimmerman. You understand what happened with the Kony 2012 campaign, and which presidential candidate rode with his dog in a crate on the top of his car and which one ate dog meat. And you are never far from Twitter.
A colleague once said, “PR people are like Jeopardy players, we know a little about everything.” While I prefer to think of us as the people who take it all on Cash Cab, the truth is that you need to be part walking encyclopedia of bizarre knowledge, part pop culture junkie, and part news addict. So, if you pride yourself on being the first of your friends to know all the latest, you may be built for a career in PR.
5. You are a stalker.
Among the traits I look for in an entry level candidate are their inquisitive nature and their ability to find information. Nothing will stop the stalker from finding and reaching that one key journalist who is a perfect fit her his or her pitch; the stalker knows exactly where and how to find relevant information and never comes to me to say they don’t know something they could have easily found on Google.
It sounds simple but sometimes it is not. First, you need to know when you need more information. And second, you need to know how to find it. Again, it sounds straightforward, but a small change in your Google search terms is the difference between hundreds of pages of irrelevant information and the one killer statistic you need to make your press release work (and, yes, good PR people do think statistics can be killer).
So, if you are a stalker who knows how to remain calm, has great writing skills, an addiction to your smart phone and all of the media apps it holds, and you are not afraid of hard work and occasional late nights in the office, PR might be the career for you.
Laura Finlayson is vice president and director of digital strategy at Beckerman, and contributes to Beckerman Voices, where a version of this article originally ran.