Just this year, I’ve had a lot of people pair my social life with my degree choice. ‘Is it any wonder you work in PR, you’re always out partying!’ or ‘I can see why you study PR, you’re never housed!’ – but does a busy social life equate to a career in PR? Are the two correlated? To be successful in PR, do I need to be outgoing and the life of the party? Is that in the job description?
There is no one-type-fits-all in PR. In a team, it is usually better to have different personalities so that everyone brings something different to the table. Someone who is empathetic, more reserved and a great listener can compliment their quick-thinking, impulsive and outspoken colleague. Can you imagine an office situation where everyone was competing to be the loudest person in the room, shouting ideas at one another? Things would never get done.
As there are so many different sectors within PR, it could take a different kind of person to be the Head of Internal Communications at the NHS than it does to be Liam Gallagher’s publicist. I think most people work in the fields they feel most passionate about, and their job and personality reflect that.
So what does it take to work in PR? What kind of personality should you have? Below are four traits that I think are very suitable for a career in Public Relations.
With the ever changing face of social media and the introduction of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence – have you seen these virtual Influencers?? – those who want to work in PR must be up to speed with all new technological advances and be able to come to grips with them very quickly, whether that be a new app on the scene or monitoring software.
The PR landscape is ever changing and those who work in PR must be able to adapt to the changes very quickly. For the fashion and beauty worlds, it is clear to see the decline in fashion magazines and outlets with publications closing every few months (Now announced its closure today) and so must anticipate the platforms that will be taking their places and be pioneers in the market.
2. Switched on
We live in a world where the news is now at our fingertips, 24/7. We have no excuse to not know what is going on around us. In PR, nothing quits at 5pm and then picks up again the next day at 9am. The world doesn’t stop turning at the weekends and so those who work in PR are having to be on constant alert in case anything creeps up in the news that could either tarnish their client or work in their client’s favour.
New York may be the city that never sleeps but PR is the industry that never sleeps. If you can’t see yourself keeping up with current affairs in your spare time or being reachable outside of office hours then maybe PR isn’t the best path to be following.
3. Level headed
My PR Director used to say that we worked in PR and not the ER, so nothing was ever life and death. We learnt not to get too concerned, panicked or upset over something that had went wrong – it could always be fixed. As well as crisis situations, someone that works in PR usually has a never ending to-do list and hundreds of different tasks on their mind at once.
If you were to work in Crisis Communications, remaining level-headed would be an imperative quality to have as you will likely be preparing announcement statements, prepping the client with any questions that could be asked and making sure they remain calm throughout and not land the company into any more hot water and how would you expect to do that successfully if you’re the one in hysterics?
I think in the PR industry, you do need to be able to talk to people and start conversations. A lot of PR is to do with relationships (most of it in fact) and so, to create relationships and build on them, you will need some personal skills. This doesn’t mean you have to have a high tolerance rate for alcohol or be out partying all of the time.
It means you should know how to approach people, the correct language to use and the right tone. You probably do need to be a people person in order to keep these relationships but you do not have to be the loudest person in the room. As the saying goes, it is usually the quietest people that have the most to say.
Personally, I would class myself as somewhere in between an introvert and an extrovert. In new situations with people that I don’t know, I’m not the most confident. I do tend to make a lot of friends in a lot of places, but this is only after a while of being in their company repeatedly and feeling relaxed enough to open up more. The only time I’ll ever be the life of a party is if I’m somewhere that I feel comfortable, familiar with and with people that I really get along or with the help of some Dutch courage.
Does partying a lot make me ideal for a job in PR? I think I just like to socialise, spend time with my friends and have a good night and for the line of PR that I want to get into, being social is probably a key factor.