Of late, the interwebs are abuzz with talk of graduation and job searching.
The young’uns are brimming with excitement, eager to kick their careers into high gear.
There’s also a cadre of older folks dispensing advice aplenty about how the juniors can endear themselves to prospective employers.
I am gonna leave advice dispensation to the smarties. Instead, since I’m pretty dope at bitching, I’ll outline two central problems in PR and strategies for coping.
1) The lack of control: Control is an illusion in life. However, you will likely have more control over many facets of life than you do in PR. Your ability to get coverage (old or new) is always subject to external circumstances and events that you have not even a modicum of influence over.
The triple murder the night before your launch; the Mayor caught in sex scandal when you are doing a press conference; the President getting shot on the day of your PR stunt…what could you have done about any of these things? Zilch. Uncertainty rules the roost in this game.
How can you deal with this problem: There are a few tips operationally that you should consider. However, my best advice is be zen about. Relish that you sometimes get overtaken by events and use it to your advantage. The uncertainty of coverage always fuels me to work harder, plan better and execute. Don’t make excuses if you get overtaken by events and receive no coverage, but realize you’ll live to fight another day.
2) People’s perception of PR: I am not referring to people who see this profession as the natural habitat for slimey douchebags. There are douches everywhere.
Instead, I’m referring to what people think our role is. It’s not about hitting send on a press release. Neither is it purely about media relations and the thickness of clip books.
Today, it’s about being at the strategic table and designing programs that support the realization of business goals.
How can you deal with this problem: First, learn about your firm or client’s business. Specifically, try to learn as much as you can about the biz goals and competitive landscape. It always impresses me when young people frame arguments or proposals this way. It HAS to be about END GOALS NOT COVERAGE STATS. Only then will we, as a profession, be seen as more than press monkeys.
On a more micro level, I believe producing content that is relevant to the achievement of business goals is another key to getting past the PR stands for press release viewpoint. If you’re young and coming out of school now, you’ve lived with tech for most of your cognizant life. Exploit this by showing your superiors that you understand PR is a centre of content creation. Get involved in projects that allow you to show that you want to learn about creating valuable pieces of content that serve business ends.
Good luck in your job search and getting started. It’s an exciting time to be plying this craft. Try your best but don’t worry so much about making mistakes. There’s no better way to learn and they WILL happen. How you react and handle the mistakes is the important part.