I’m at that point in my career in PR as an agency account director that I can take a clear-eyed stock of what my job is really like and entails. I’m fascinated by some of the main characteristics—I don’t think they’d necessarily be noted in a class on PR, yet they are undeniably the best perks of the job. Here they are, in no particular order…
#1. PR is a career you can explain to your child in one sentence. This is surprisingly difficult for many jobs and careers, but in my case, it’s pretty simple. Here’s what I told my son, who was about 9 at the time, when he asked me what my job was: “I help get people in the news.”
Now, his follow up question, “Why?” required a more extensive explanation. But the job description itself remained a piece of cake
#2. People are (mostly) quick to respond to your emails and calls. Well, maybe not reporters, alas. But effective PR requires quick, responsive action and the thought leaders I communicate with on a daily basis understand that. Also, I’m communicating with them about interesting media opportunities. In short, people have a reason and a desire to quickly respond to their publicist.
#3. You’ll be a problem solver. If you are thinking about a career in PR, prepare to make judgment calls all day long. This is fairly terrifying at first, but you’ll never be bored. Throughout your day, you will be confronted with one decision after another to make. Should you pursue the media opportunity that just came across your desk? How do you fix someone’s problematic edits to a press release without insulting them? Your client’s customer who agreeably sat down for an interview with a top trade publication just emailed you asking to see the article before it’s published–something you know most reporters won’t agree to. How do you respond?
These are just some of the issues I’ve had to address in the last 30 minutes. In case you’re interested, here’s how I solved them: I researched the website traffic numbers of the media publication, plus the reporter’s past articles, and also sent out a query to my colleagues at the agency to see if they’ve worked with this reporter. I tactfully explained to the client why I thought we needed to tweak the language, and provided some alternative phrasing. And I explained to the client’s customer that reporters generally don’t share articles, but we can ask if quotes can be shown ahead of time.
After a while, you get pretty good at thinking on your feet. Just don’t ever be hesitant to ask for feedback from your colleagues. We’ll never know it all, and if you work with a smart team, you’ll get lots of great ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask, and of course, don’t hoard your own knowledge. Share the wealth.
#4. You can change the course of history. If you are doing your job, you are absorbing a tremendous amount of knowledge about your industry niche. Pairing this with your client’s own mission, you can shape the court of public opinion. Right now, I’m involved in explaining, educating and advocating for healthcare’s shift to value-based care, which could have implications on our health for decades or even centuries. If all goes as planned, we’ll have physicians pay as much if not more attention to keeping us well as they do to treating us when we’re sick. Our life expectancies could become significantly longer.
One caveat: I won’t get credit for any of this. Publicists usually aren’t publicly known faces. Well, except for one brief shining moment in the early 2000’s.
#5. You will get to meet and speak with people you might never have crossed paths with in a different career. In my four years at Amendola Communications, I’ve sat in a user meeting for nuclear medicine physicists; had dinner with a celebrity OB-GYN; and work regularly with a young woman who has scaled the heights of Kilimanjaro. I also frequently interact with thought leaders and executives at the top of their game, brilliant physicians and nurse leaders and some of the most dynamic communications professionals in the PR industry today. Pretty invigorating!
Public relations really is one of the most interesting careers one could tap into. Still, it’s not for the faint of heart. As with any results-driven profession, there is stress and self-doubt and many highs and lows…sometimes, all of this within a 30-minute time span. But here at Amendola, we’ve got that covered too: an always full chocolate drawer.
Yep, this job is pretty sweet.