When I sit back in my leather winged backed chair (not really) and think about my career in PR, I often wonder what was it exactly that drew me to this ever changing industry of communications and megaphones.
I think, as humans we gravitate towards our chosen careers, usually because they play to our strengths or allow us to face our fears. (My first role was in the NHS where I looked my fear of white coats head on.) But I have to admit, that even if I did watch Absolutely Fabulous repeatedly, I was always destined to have a role in PR.
But was I destined to become publicist for the Middletons and have Kensington Palace on speed dial? That's another blog post.
So, bearing in mind that the majority of you reading this today is already in PR or about to jump on board on the Good Ship Publicity, arm yourself with a jolly good wetsuit and flippers, I am about to tell you why you probably made the best decision you'll ever likely make (and why you might have been drawn to it in the first place.)
PRs are great talkers, but the great ones know when to stop
Working in public relations is about just that. Think Ronseal and you get the picture. They can talk and spin words around like tapestry but to get to that, they first need to stop and listen (which, I have to say, does not come naturally to any human being.) Born PRs, as children, are the ones at the back during school play auditions watching everyone else jump up and down frantically hoping to get picked for the lead role. These young observers in the making can be seen comfortably standing to one side, observing the array of wild wannabes, carefully filling in back stories and quietly questioning their motives to be the first on stage.
PRs even as youngsters will view their landscape carefully and people watch, as well as keep ears pinned firmly to the ground, before they can pin someone else to the ground to get some info out of them. They are fascinated with words but silence can often be their second in command, allowing sweet pauses to emerge here and there when required.
PRs are the ones at the front of the class capturing the room's attention
When I think PR, I think Hans Christian Anderson, (or Danny Kaye, who played him in the movies, for that matter.)They are story tellers (I actually get a little tired of that label) yet they are so much more than that. They craft out of no where something that ordinarily could look so dull. They can take even the most morose and make it magical. They are illusionists but not in the traditional sense. They are there to find your truth, your vision and what drives you. If you have a friend in your circle who regularly makes the world look sunnier, brighter and a lot more colourful than say, plumbing should be, they are probably a born PR.
It's because communication isn't just opening your jaws up and down in the hope that something will hit the floor in a profound sort of way. It's conscious and sub conscious. As a young, impressionable 20 something, I met an equally young impressionable 20 something who turned out to be someone incredibly famous 10 years later, making a career out of being highly impressionable on everyone else around him.
That person became a master of manipulation on stage, often using just hypnotic language, oodles of suggestion, wit, a bit of NLP and a heck of a lot of charm and style. Derren Brown, even in your wild purple trousers and funny hair, you would have made an excellent PR (either that or a damn good Primary School teacher.)
PRs are control freaks (because I said so)
We do like to be in control, but not to the point we will take over your business, that has to be said. We just like to wallow in our own order of things. When we send out our babies in the wide blue world (our press releases, for example, because everything we create is offspring) we like to make sure that little one has lunchbox, crayons, PE bag and clean matching socks.
A good PR would rather run razors down the side of each toe nail that send a half eaten Apple out in the un-ironed pocket of their little darling's blazer (you get the picture.)
PRs are often born lucky (silver spoons)
Some of us are born into PR. They fight it right the way through their lives, often kicking and screaming violently until eventually they cave in and take a job. Right place, right person, right call, right decision, right time - these are often fateful events in the life of the PR Pro. They land on their feet, turn hobbies into jobs and eventually do the same for everyone else's business.
Cast an eye back across their working life and see how they have simply fallen into the best companies and the right roles. It can be sickening to the untrained eye, yet, the born PR will often have this irritating trait in common with all the other equally lucky PRs on the planet.
PRs are honest and loyal...guv..
They never tell a lie (not even a good one) because the whole point of a PRs world is to be transparent and honest. Even if it means they tell you that your product or your service isn't delivering what YOU think it does.
When in business, building your ever so carefully scripted relationship with your audience needs to be drafted and redrafted by your PR. Don't step out of your front door without a quick check by your loved one for stray doggy hairs. Once you hit the big time (and with a good PR, its not that impossible) your public (adoring or otherwise) will want to scrutinise you with a few sharp dental instruments. PRs would rather sticks pins in their cuticles than see your well coiffured reputation be slashed in two because something you said, wrote or even cooked for someone wasn't entirely honest.
PRs are everyone's best buddy (and usually mean it)
Pre COVID, PRs where are the heart of 6 hour lunches surrounded by clients and stakeholders. They will genuinely want to get to know everyone from the CEO in the room to chap standing at the door checking names.
Everyone is important to the PR, every opinion, every look, every connection plays a vital role in building that ever so important back story. Allow them to swim freely through your swimming pool of staff and they will be getting everyone inhouse and out house doing synchronise backstrokes.
PRs are cool when every one around them isn't
Even if it is only to make a few cold calls, your PR will jump to the challenge. Nothing will scare this beast. See the image of the girl with six phones on the go and still has time to file her nails? That's a PR. They are jugglers, acrobats and circus compares. But, of course to do that, you need to ensure the safety net is on stand by for them. A good strategically minded PR is only as good as the equipment about them, and what do we mean by that? Information! (Think 1960s cult TV classic The Prisoner but minus the giant ping pong ball.)
Even after business hours, you can catch them walk a tightrope whilst negotiating with a journalist. They are a committed bunch. They can multitask and think of a dozen things in one go. The best PRs will be all things to your business both internally and externally, which of course is what you want. Grab your PR and make sure they have access to all the angles of your business. You will be glad of it when the proverbial hits the fan. Your PR will be cool, calm and collected if they have all the facts.
PRs often shout the loudest even when at risk of being laughed at
It's often termed as 'pushing boundaries' and 'taking risks' but the PR will shout a cause even at the risk of being laughed at. This isn't a career for the faint hearted. You have to be brazen. No shrinking violet every became a fabulous publicist (not even me) They say that comedians are often painfully shy. PRs make good stand ups, the best ones will take someone else's joke and make the audience laugh louder.
Public relations can be an aggressive arena and many a post grad has been fended off finding a better quality of life in another area of the media instead. As said, it's not for the quiet ones. PRs have watched others slide off the greasy pole and carved a niche out for themselves.
We are wise beyond our years, clever, shrewd and smart care givers who match our values and beliefs. Yet we are curious souls, looking for the pieces to a jigsaw puzzle and often creating a whole new brighter picture. Yet our roles can go much deeper that skin only. If we feel the need to stand on an orange box and don a megaphone in hand, then we do so, whether it's through voice or a cleverly crafted piece of highly skilled content. Charity PRs in particular are the voice of their organisation often adopting the cause and message as ones of their very own.
PRs are the gift that keeps on giving
They are forever learners not only for themselves but for their employers and their clients. Stepping out of the college or university with the ink still wet on the certificate isn't the end of the educational era for a PR. They will keep on learning, finding out, being curious, asking questions, surveying, studying (some PRs have gone on to be cracking lawyers and often marry those in the legal profession so they can debate all night long.)
So if you are lucky to have yourself in this crazy PR world or you are in the company of one, you are in good company. You will be delighted, amazed and be entertained. Keep learning, do great work (together.) You will be pleased you did.
Want to find out how a little magic in your business could make your audience beg for more of you and your service or product? Drop me a line at email@example.com and let's jump on a call to see what I can do to make your business, project or venture get the spotlight it needs.