‘Your life is amazing!’ ‘We’re all so jealous of you,’ ‘You’re living the dream!’ ‘I wish I had a job in PR,’ ‘What is it you do for your placement?’ ‘Do you get paid just to drink and meet celebrities?’
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard the above phrases since starting my job at Coty. The wonder of social media. Making my life look glamorous and 100% perfect to all viewing public. Also giving a boost to the number of people intrigued in a career in PR.
Is my life amazing? Am I living the dream? Most days, yes it is and yes I am. Other days, not so much.
I may give the impression that my job is 90% freebies, events, alcohol, celebrities and parties but would anyone really be interested if I posted my day-to-day jobs of unboxing stock, sending out new releases, creating coverage reports, printing hundreds of press releases and flipping through magazines, to name but a few?
Of course they wouldn’t. They see only the small percentage of perks of my job. The champagne, parties, celebrities is all but a minor part of my placement. And it most definitely isn’t the definition of a job in PR. Well, drinking copious amounts of alcohol might be.
A lot of people see what I post and think I’m having the life of Riley. They think ‘I could do her job. I could attend events, travel around London, drink prosecco and entertain influencers. Easy.’ But that’s not PR. None of those things are in my job description.
The confusing part
On a little bit of a tangent, it’s important to understand that PR is a very wide spectrum. You can work in any sector within PR. Whether that be beauty, tech, sports, music or even politics. My job is not the definition and image of PR. Others with the same title as mine may have a very different idea as to what the role of a PR Assistant is.
When it comes to PR, one size certainly does not fit all. The term can be used very loosely in certain aspects. Take your students standing on the street corners of Concert Square in Liverpool shouting ‘Two-for-one cocktails in Soho tonight, ladies!’ ‘Free shots in McCooleys, lads!’ – according to their job title, they are ‘PRs’. Not my definition of someone working in Public Relations, but to them, perhaps.
So don’t just take my job as the ultimate example of life in PR. You could end up working as the Head of Communications for Buckingham Palace or Head of Crisis Management for the BBC.
No two jobs in PR are the exact same, believe me. I’ve found the type of PR that I want to pursue a career in. You won’t see me working for a rail network or some large, grey, corporation, no thank you. You’ll hopefully see me at the glitziest, hottest celebrity events with all of the free champagne that I can drink.
I’m kidding. But the PR that I’m doing at the moment, that’s the kind of PR I want to keep doing. Working with my favourite magazines, influencers and with amazing brands – that’s what I hope to continue with in the future. But I won’t say no to the free champagne, if you’re offering.
So you fancy a job like mine? Think you’re cut out for a career in PR? Keep reading to see if you have what it takes.
1. Do you spend your life on Instagram?
If you don’t, prepare to. Instagram and blogs are a huge part of my job. I have to keep up with what journalists are doing, what events influencers are attending, who they’re doing paid collaborations with, any backlash or drama happening within the community and what different brands are sending to both press and influencers and also which influencers they’re not sending to.
I’ve had to upgrade my data plan three times within the last six months just so I can stay on Instagram. I’m now on 20GB of data per month which hopefully means I won’t have to increase my allowance any time soon.
A lot of my time is spent flicking through Instagram stories and capturing anything of note, as after 24 hours it’s gone without a trace. If you think about how many influencers there are, how many journalists there are, how many Instagram accounts there are for each publication and how often all of the above post, you can see why it kind of takes over your life.
So if Instagram isn’t your thing, then my job won’t be either. Before you think of entering into the wonderful world of PR, make sure your Insta game is up to scratch.
2. Can you multi-task?
I’m the PR Assistant for 18 (at least) brands in the luxury division. Just me, supporting on all of the brands. This means I could be suggesting philosophy products for a skincare feature, then sending information about Hugo Boss fragrances, to compiling a coverage report for Burberry, all within the space of five minutes.
You need to be able to stop what you’re doing to jump onto something else depending on what’s urgent. A lot of my work is ad-hoc based, waiting for emails about call-ins from press that have requested certain products. There are aspects of my job that are structured and happen at the same time during the week, but for the most part, it’s different every day. This is the best part of my job. No two days are ever the same.
3. Are you organised?
This is probably one of the most important qualities to have for PR. In terms of my job, it’s vital. You have to know when each brand has a new launch, the dates, prices, when stock is available to order, where to find product shots, everything. I also have a stock cupboard that is my responsibility to keep in order and stocked. I make sure we have all of our weekly and monthly magazines and that each are checked for coverage. I also raise the invoices for my team, so it’s my job to make sure our suppliers get paid.
For a lot of our brands, our global teams request updates of coverage reports. As I collate these as and when coverage comes in, I have a lot of deadlines to adhere to and have to be super organised to make sure I meet these deadlines.
When we have events I’m usually the one in charge of the guest list/RSVPs and also any cars for our guests. You need to be super organised and know what’s going on when it comes to PR. You can’t let it all get too much or you’ll either implode or explode.
4. Are you efficient?
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s slow people. Either move fast or don’t move at all. I’m one of those people that expects things to be done yesterday after I’ve only asked for it today. What kind of leader do you think that would make me? Step aside, Anna Wintour.
In PR you need to be efficient and you need to be on the ball. I don’t know if it came from my time waitressing and bartending when I was rushing about absolutely everywhere, I just can’t seem to do things at a slow pace.
When I say efficient I don’t mean rushed or reckless, I just mean to be on it as soon as you’re asked to do something or when it comes to something like unpacking stock or doing a mailing, it shouldn’t take all day. The quicker you can get it done, the quicker you can get back to something else on your never-ending to-do list.
5. Do you live and breathe your industry?
I can honestly tell you that I’ve never been so passionate and fully invested in a job before in my life, until working at Coty. Working with fragrance, in such an interesting and exciting sector as PR and Influencer Marketing has totally sealed the deal on what I want to do in the future.
Of course it helps that I already invest most of my time in social media, the beauty industry and have a love for the brands that I’m working for. Being able to say that you love what you do for a living is very rare. Being able to work with my favourite magazines, speak to journalists I’ve read for years, and meet some of my favourite bloggers has been a dream.
If you’re happy and positive in your job, give it everything you’ve got, take every opportunity that comes your way, then of course you will excel. If you know PR is the career for you, find the sector that interests you the most. Whether that be hospitality, fashion, lifestyle or art – find something you are glad to wake up and do every day for the rest of your life.
6. Are you confident?
One thing PRs aren’t, is shy. It’s part of the job to network and make small talk with everyone and anyone. The main part of a PR’s job is to maintain relationships. Whether that be with press, influencers or industry professionals.
You should be able to communicate really well – whether that be over email, on the phone, via social media or in person. People still talk face to face these days, don’t they?
7. Do you stress out easily?
PR can be a very stressful job at times. Curveballs can come out of nowhere and you’ve got to be prepared to deal with them, no matter how much of a shock or crisis.
It’s easy to get stressed out in any job, but (unless you work in the health industry) just keep telling yourself it’s not life or death. The world isn’t going to end because someone has slated your product or no one wants to give your brand any coverage. The world keeps turning, time keeps ticking, it all blows over.
Just maybe make sure you have a stress ball to hand on your desk. That helps.
Still like the sound of a career in Public Relations?
I may sound like I’m being very negative about a job in PR, but I don’t mean to be. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and I 100% know that this is the career I want to pursue once I graduate from university. I just want to make people aware that PR isn’t just champagne and events. There’s work involved. Hard work.
If you asked the other interns that work with me, they say I have the best job, but at times I also have the worst job. They think my mailings are mind-numbing. Unwrapping hundreds of fragrances and bagging them up may seem like a dismal part of my job to them but it’s one of my favourites. These mailings go to some of my favourite beauty writers and editors, as well as some of my favourite influencers. They don’t realise the importance of these people that will receive the product. I don’t think they realise the importance of PR to a business.
I worked my arse off to be where I am right now, through interning as much as I could before placement year, starting this blog, emailing as many PR professionals for tips and advice, and just being so determined to have the best career I can in public relations. Like any career out there, PR is no different – you can’t expect to walk in at the top.
You’re going to have to be the assistant for a while, running out to buy magazines, ordering and maintaining stock and supporting your team with the oddest jobs you can think of. You have to learn and progress.
If you want a career in PR, work for it.