With back-to-school messaging everywhere right now, I’ve been reflecting a lot about school and how I have been lucky enough to end up in a career I love. Judging by my early report cards and teacher evaluations, it was pretty clear I would one day end up in a communication role because apparently, I couldn’t seem to stop chattering in class. That got me thinking that in addition to the gift of gab, what else should current high school and college students consider when contemplating a career in PR? Here are a few attributes and skills that have proved to be particularly helpful to me and my PR roles.
I am continually working on multiple different accounts, projects, and pieces of content simultaneously. A PR professional must be able to toggle between numerous initiatives and efforts seamlessly. Excellent time management is critical here, and so is identifying priorities. However, bottom line, you must like variety and have a little bit of a squirrel brain to keep all the balls in the air.
Relationships are essential in most professional roles for sure, but the sheer amount of interpersonal relationship you have as a PR professional can exceed the norm. From your internal team to client contacts, other vendors to members of the media, etc., there are many folks you interact with daily. Each relationship is unique and has its own separate requirements for effective navigation. As cliché
This is key. As a PR professional, I hear a lot of no’s…or a lot of crickets… Many times, you pitch what you think is a home run, and you’re super excited to share with your client all the great buzz your story is going to get but then, no one bites. Ugh, it’s the worst. It’s hard to explain to your client, and it stinks telling your boss you weren’t able to secure any coverage, it just plain stinks. Moreover, it’s ok to be disappointed; that shows you care. However, you can’t think about it for very long because you have to pick yourself up and figure out a new way to tell that story, you must have thick skin and bounce back better than ever.
Often as a PR professional, you’re looking for new and unique ways to tell your client’s story. And let’s face it, not every client or brand is exactly exciting. But that’s ok! This is where, as a professional, you get to dream and stretch your brain. You have the opportunity to think of new ways to pitch and new angles to take. As a PR pro, you also have to be a PS pro – Problem Solving. Being able to think of new ways to tell the same story, or to make a not-so-exciting announcement newsworthy goes with the territory.
A career in public relations is exciting and rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work. There are skills to hone that contribute to your success. If you’re headed back to high school or college and thinking about joining the world of PR, I encourage you to reach out to someone currently in the role to help you along the way. You’ll find most of us are receptive to helping newbies out. After all, relationship building is kinda our thing (wink, wink).
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