It often amazes me the kind of work we do in PR. From being the one who is creating strategy to managing crisis, from planning of activities to crafting of key brand messages, we wear multiple hats as a PR professional. While each profession has its own highs and lows, I often think that the journey of a PR professional teaches one a lot on the way. Some of them might be true for any profession, and it is the go-getter attitude that always leads to success. However, through this article, I want to share the learnings I have had during my experience of being in the PR industry. Many would debate that these learnings are applicable in any profession and it might be true as well – but there are a few things that this profession inculcates in you. Sharing them below. Some of them are indeed life lessons!
- Nothing is impossible
This really is a deep thought that we all are taught in our school times, but have you ever thought of pulling off an event within a span of less than 24 hours? From managing logistics to inviting media and from time bound reporting to early morning/midnight crisis, PR does teach you that nothing is impossible!
- Half knowledge is a dangerous thing
Twitter is full of numerous journalists sharing their bad experience of getting calls from the rookies of the PR world. PR professionals, too, have their own set of challenges when working with media. The takeaway therefore is if you are not fully prepared and do not have complete knowledge, things will not be in your favour. Next time, before randomly calling a journalist, take a step back, think of the pitch you want to make, spend some time to research about the kind of stories he/she does to decide whether the story you want to pitch will make sense. It will save time and more importantly, embarrassment.
- Credibility isn’t built in a day
It takes many years to build a brand’s reputation but only a few seconds for it to get tarnished. Brands that have faced crisis situations know about this very well and understand that damage control isn’t a one-day job. In fact, as PR professionals we know that reputation isn’t built in a day. It takes years to gain the trust of stakeholders – be it shareholders, consumers or employees for that matter. Remember, what happened to United Airlines and looking closer to home – Maggi?
Another noteworthy point is that often people confuse publicity with PR – remarking that no publicity is bad publicity and any publicity is good publicity which is a complete no-no. Short term publicity doesn’t lead to reputation – reputation is a long-term goal and one must not forget that.
- No day is the same
Well, every day in PR is different and you would agree with me on that for sure. One day, you might be writing a piece of content for your client and another day, you might be following up with media to pitch a story and one fine day, if you work with consumer brands like I do, there might be a consumer complaint about which you must be investigating. No day is same in PR and life too for that matter!
- Why planning is important
Being in PR can make you a wonderful planner. Phrases such as “do give me a heads up” or “did you follow-up and confirm the exact status?” form a regular part of your conversations even when you are talking to your family and non-PR friends (who might find it funny for sure 😊 ). You plan way ahead, know about the exact status of the task and are on top of your game – be it a client event, a story pitch et al. The takeaway is when you are owning something, there needs to be end-to-end closure with no loopholes in between the coordination.
- Always have a plan B
Like I said earlier, this might be applicable to other professions too. Having a plan B (and at times, C and D) is critical for success since it isn’t necessary that your plan A will be successful. After all, how many times does that happen that a story pitch you thought didn’t work out or the media outlet you suggested isn’t keen to do a story on a topic you had proposed to the client? Multiple times – and therefore the relevance of having a plan B.
- If you don’t know, then you figure out!
This is one of the major learnings that I have had in my career. PR teaches you to resourceful. You find a way out to solve a problem. Often, clients are facing a problem when they say that help us figure out a solution. Therefore, if you are in PR and you do not know a way out, you figure it out and make it happen.
Having spent more than six years in PR now, these learnings have made me evolve as an individual. Some of them will be #MondayMotivation thoughts for you. What have been your learnings in PR? Do you think there are life lessons to take from them? Do share them by tweeting at @PR_wali