Ranked as one of the world's most stressful jobs
for good reasons, public
relations is not for everyone. I often think back to college, wishing
someone had explained that because of my strengths and weaknesses, a
career in "blank"
would be perfect for me. Didn't happen. Here are some tips to figure out
if public relations is for you.
You'll find success and enjoyment in public relations if:
1. You're Type A. If you're that student who always
takes the lead in group projects because you don't trust anyone else to
get the job done, PR is for you. If you put all
those type A students from high school or college into an auditorium
together, you'd be looking at the next generation of PR professionals.
(And a really
2. You like to write and have a way with words.
If you like writing ad jingles in your head or always have to revise
college essays because you wrote too much, PR might be for you. Although
writing is formal—press releases, media alerts, proposals,
presentations—much is more creative: social media, email pitches to
reporters, strategy for a
fun PR campaign or stunt. If writing assignments make you cringe, steer
3. News fascinates you.
If reading about what's going on in the world is your cup of tea, take a
seat at the PR roundtable. PR professionals exult in the thrill of the
story, viral video, or must-have brand stunt, and how they can get their
client in the spotlight.
4. You can talk to anyone. And everyone.
Successful public relations professionals easily strike up conversation
with strangers. The shy need not apply. So much of the industry, whether
working with your peers or convincing a new company's leadership team to
hire your firm, is about chemistry. If you can't connect with people
communication, this isn't the career path for you. A good PR
professional knows that the next new business lead just might come from
the person sitting
next to her on the train.
5. You're relentless.
Public relations demands professionals committed to success. Whether
it's determination to get an A in class, land a new job, get your client
on CNN or win
a new client's business, you relish the thrill of the chase and the
gratification of a win. If you're the type who sits back and says, "Hey,
have to see who wins," seek another career. In PR, it's sink or swim.
6. You're organized and detail-oriented.
If you write to-do lists and plan, if you read and re-read directions on
a class assignment to make sure you're not missing any steps, you'll do
7. You're interested in business.
Public relations is business. Everything we do improves awareness of our
clients' service or product so their businesses succeed. If you place
client's footwear in Harper's Bazaar magazine, you help them sell more
shoes. If your startup client is quoted in a Tech Crunch article, it may
be seen by investors. If you get a celebrity to wear your client's
jewelry, it sells out the next day. Yes, we are media professionals, but
businessmen and women.
8. You have thick skin. We all make mistakes. When a
public relations professional makes one mistake, his or her job could be
on the line. If the mistake is bad enough (an inappropriate tweet,
copying a journalist on a confidential client email, etc.), the agency
looks bad. This atmosphere creates high-stress; everyone double- and
the work. It may lead to an upset manager scolding you or showing you
the door. If you have understanding managers or can grin and bear it,
and learn from
your mistakes, you'll be fine.
9. You're a team player. If you're proud when your team
members succeed, you're a good PR candidate. Public relations is
riddled with teams-in-house PR teams at companies and
teams within PR agencies. If you think there's an "I" in team, look for
10. You don't like doing the same thing every day. Like
an emergency room doctor, you never know what to expect. You will
never, and I repeat never, have one workday identical to the last. PR
you if you like repetition or dislike change.
How can you learn more? While college PR courses can occasionally be
helpful, I highly recommend getting hands-on experience in a PR
internship or joining
your college's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)
chapter. In the meantime, here's a fun quiz to help determine if you'd like PR and if the
industry would like you.
Ready for the challenge?
Brooks Wallace is a senior account executive with
Hollywood Public Relations.