I’m not sure whether I cringe or chuckle when I hear a college student or recent college graduate comment on the glamorous nature of public relations.
Reality check: PR is not
glamorous. If that’s in your top five reasons for entering the industry, you had better change directions now.
The truth is most people don’t understand public relations, even those entering the field. As a PR pro, I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, because—if we want to get down to it—most often it’s a thankless job with a high amount of stress.
Every day is full of opportunities to make an impact for the company or brands you represent, but there is never enough time and luck—or whatever you want to call it: timing, circumstances, etc.—isn’t always on your side.
But you should never count on luck to be on your side. Every successful outcome starts with a solid strategy with various plans of attack. And by “attack,” I don’t mean duping reporters, spinning the truth, or forcing a story down anyone’s throat.
Smart PR pros focus on the brand and the consumers. What is their love line? What is it that brings them together? They start there and build programs, platforms, pitches—whatever it takes to emphasize the strengths of the brand.
I get sick of people assuming everything in public relations is a lie. There have been serious cover-ups and flops under the PR flag, but that isn’t the premise of the practice. We help brands tell their true
stories. We compliment other marketing programs (such as advertising) to give life to a brand and foster a reputation that the public respects.
Here are six pieces of advice for the next generation of PR professionals:
• Be prepared to work your butt off with little pay;
• Be prepared not to receive much praise, but to be given quite a bit of responsibility (every part of a PR team is important);
• Be prepared to be given little respect by journalists and some clients—until you’ve earned it;
• Be prepared to listen and to soak in all information when told the first time;
• Be prepared to continue making mistakes and learning throughout your career;
• Be prepared to feel immense pride when you see the positive impact you’ve help make for a company.
I’m not trying to scare away new recruits, but I want the ones joining the ranks to be tough as nails and ready to dive in headfirst—not to expect to flounce around at parties mingling with celebrities.
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with those joining the PR ranks?
Jennifer Nichols is co-founder and CEO of FlackList, where media can easily search, source, connect, and maintain relationships with PR reps and experts within a social network setting.