Is being formally dressed to work a requirement for Public Relations?

Having served as the PR lead of some renowned brands, I have had the fortune of being the face of those brands for the outside world, be it business clients or media, or any other stakeholders. As a representative of those brands, it became my second nature to be well-dressed all the time, and this continues even now. Believe me, people still judge a book by its cover, and we judge other people by what we see on the outside.

So yes, I am a firm believer in taking care of appearances and being presentable while representing an organisation to the outside world. This is not necessarily limited to the PR profession but is true of any other profession for that matter. However, all this is my individual opinion and may not necessarily be agreeable to others. Having said this, there are times when we do have the liberty of dressing up casually.

Contrary to what I have mentioned above, many PR companies allow the employees to be dressed casually. The fact is that employees’ dressing sense is mostly based on the culture of the company and is dependent on the schedule for the day. So there is no steadfast rule to follow as far as dressing up is concerned for a PR pro, but it is advisable to be well-dressed to be able to create a good impression on the outside world.

I understand that dressing professionally makes me realise that the work I am contributing on behalf of my brand for my clients is important and can be considered as an achievement if the client chooses to follow through with what I have proposed. This means that even if I was not meeting any outsiders any of the days, I would still like to be dressed professionally even at the cost of being uncomfortable sometimes.

All said and done, there have been times that I felt lost dressing appropriately in the PR world. I knew I have to maintain a certain level of professionalism so as to represent the company and the client in the best light possible but there were times and days where all you want to be was in a T-Shirt, Jeans and sneakers with unkempt hair and with an unmade-up face. But does dressing down affect the ideas and the proposals that come out from the person, whether it maybe the director or the associate that is handling the client? I personally feel that if the culture for the company is to be dressed professionally and the clients that you are handling are high- profiled, then it justifies the employees to be dressed to the nines. But if the people that you are working with are flexible and would rather you be comfortable in what you wear so as to produce results, just follow the flow and do not question it.

Well in the end I would like to mention that I actually feel there is a dichotomy about this dressing conundrum in the PR profession. There are days when one would want to be in comfortable clothing trying to attend to what the tasks would need to be accomplished, which makes practical sense. But at the same time, while meeting outside stakeholders and while representing the brand at various platforms/forums, I always feel it’s important to make an effort to dress appropriately so as to leave the best impression about the company one is working for.

Ritu Bararia
Ritu is a Corporate Communications leader, Mentor, Author, Public Relations Evangelist, Thought leader, Advisor. She has nearly two decades of working experience having spearheaded Communications, PR and Corporate Affairs with corporate brands such as Kingfisher Airlines, The Park Hotels, Bird Group.

She quit her corporate career in the beginning of 2018 to try her hand at various related things within communications space. She turned into a published author in 2020 with her maiden book ‘Little Joys of Communication’.

Currently Ritu is Senior Director at SCoRe and, Executive Director Communicators Guild – India (CGI).

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