If there’s one thing term I loathe it’s ‘PR girls’. It is always used with some sort of condescending tone, not knowing exactly what ‘we’ do but definitely thinking that in fact we don’t really do anything (useful or important). But maybe (hopefully) that’s only my opinionated-self talking (a key trait of any, true PR professional).
With the release today in the US of the movie adaptation of the 90s Brit TV series Absolutely Fabulous, there are bound to be more misconceptions about the (fashion) PR trade. In the sitcom, Edina, a PR agent, and Patsy, a disgruntled fashion editor, live the high life of shopping, partying, drinking and complaining. Eddy’s daughter, Saffy, puts it painfully well saying: “I’m sorry, Mum, but I’ve never seen what you actually do”. In true Eddy style, the PR agent answers “PR! PR things! People. Places. Concepts.”
However, that doesn’t seem to equate with CareerCast’s latest Job Rated Report, in which they examined 200 professions and compiled a top 10 with most stressful jobs; Public Relations Executive was ranked no. 6. Now, we’re no firefighters (who rank no. 2 the same list) and don’t save lives, but these 7 key traits may help to understand us and the magic world of Public Relations a little better:
- PRs always have an opinion.
About everything, anyone, anytime. Mind you, often we have the strongest opinions about ourselves and our work; it’s because we are always observing and deciding our next move.
- PRs dream of targets.
When you’re working at an agency, you will have an average number of 8 clients calling or e-mailing you when it’s that time of the month. Reporting time that is. It’s quite a challenge to actually measure–quantify, use really cool metrics–the effect of PR.
- PRs are constantly deep in thought.
Not about what bag we just need to buy or about that long overdue manicure, but about how we can make a PR story–and in the case of Stylight, also a content campaign–go viral. This is actually why I was given the unfortunate nickname Tigger.
- PRs have “very busy social lives”.
There are endless lunches, parties, press trips, and launch events to attend. But wait, our busy social lives are mostly strictly professional: we don’t get to drink unlimited champagne (or Chanel No. 5 for that matter) or dance on the table. We’re the girls who order the cab home and ensure that any Instagram photos that may possibly be embarrassing (or harmful) magically disappear by the next day. This, by the way, runs true for media contacts, clients and CEOs alike. But yes, we do have fun along the way.
- PRs have “very productive meetings and calls” and do a lot of talking.
But you never know when these will actually pay off. See, PR, in terms of results, is not in real-time or short term, it’s a long term relationship-building strategy. And we get to harvest those results at some point. Just don’t put a deadline on it, sometimes they arrive when we least expect it. And when all that effort (and talking, obviously) finally pays off, you can find us dancing, cheering, high-fiving, or all the above. We don’t spend those sleepless nights worrying about targets for nothing, so we rejoice in celebrating every piece of coverage.
- PRs read a lot of (online) magazines, blogs, social media posts…
Being constantly plugged in, we are always in the know. Mind you, our profession has destroyed any glint of hope of being able to read a newspaper or magazine without scanning the pages for a) articles on our brand or client, b) articles on competitors, and c) names of editors and freelancers. But yes, we do know about the latest hair trends, the (next) people to watch, and why we all need to have a… in our wardrobe this Fall.
- PRs have the luxury of working in a dream team.
It’s not only Olivia Pope, the crisis communications profession from Washington DC in ABC’s Scandal, who relies on her team of experts.
Lastly, if there is one thing you must always keep in mind: we will network with you without you even realising it. What may be seen as a ‘normal’ conversation to most, is really about evaluating, ideating, and harvesting information. But it’s not insincere. Not in the least. It’s just what us PR girls do. And yes, we are absolutely fabulous.