Thursday, February 7, 2013
So, I made myself a PR Pro
Maybe you saw the Dodge commercial on Sunday about God making farmers? Then, if you work in PR, maybe you saw Arik Hanson’s blog post adopting this to how God made PR pros? This is definitely interesting, and it makes us look like hard working, driven, intelligent and extremely busy individuals. And that is definitely true – I’m not arguing that –so thanks for the post, Arik.
What I’m arguing against, however, is that God made PR pros. God didn’t make me a PR professional, I did. I worked hard in undergrad to get into a top PR graduate school. I worked multiple jobs and was an integral part of a University social media research project at a time when the industry was trying to figure it out. I spent all-nighters working in the computer labs on research papers, campaigns, graphic design projects, studying for tests, etc. God didn’t make me do this. I did, because I wanted to succeed. This isn’t about religion, it’s about the fact that in PR, most of us have a work hard/play hard attitude. We’re multi-taskers, doers, thinkers, innovators, writers, early-risers, night owls, social butterflies and so forth. So, Arik – here’s my respectful rebut.
So, I made myself a PR pro, by never quitting, working hard and knowing when it’s time to rest.
I said, “I really don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m., how about I snooze until 5 a.m.? Great, and then I’ll go for a run, and sign on to my computer from home. I’ll check my Google Alerts, send over the morning’s coverage to my clients, head to the suburbs for a client meeting to present updated messaging to their executive team, head in to the office by 11:30, scan additional news, Tweet out client coverage, spend my lunch drafting this blog post, call my beat reporters, set up pre-briefs for news on a client’s big customer win, write the briefing materials, make sure my managers/VPs have the monthly metrics, draft a press release, check my LinkedIn groups for comment opportunities, draft a byline, moderate a media interview with Forbes, fill in my daily time sheets, check out with managers, head over to the Mobile Monday start-up event, mingle with investors and new business prospects, get home by 10 p.m., respond to any pending emails, go to bed and do it all over again the next day.” I did this because I wanted to, not because of some calling from a higher power.
So, I made myself a PR pro by pushing limits and exceeding expectations.
I said, “I need to sit in this meeting with Vice Presidents and the entire client team, listen to their recommendations, offer creative ideas for new campaigns, talk about metrics, and then, when my VP asks me to pull off the near-impossible in just two quarters, tell her that I’ll do it in one.”
So, I made myself a PR pro by being confident enough to challenge the norm and offer advice to leadership, but humble enough to learn from anyone who has lessons to offer.
I said, “ I need to analyze these Cision metrics and Google Analytics and explain to clients why what they’re doing isn’t working and what can work. I need to step up when that client asks for a release turned around in 15 minutes, or when there is breaking industry news and my client wants to be the first to respond about it. I need to mentor interns and younger staff, while learning and taking advice from my more veteran colleagues. I need to respect my clients while offering realistic guidance. Sometimes, I need to vent about things, but I can’t complain.”
So, I made myself a PR pro because I learned how to weed out the important from the trivial, and that true success means a work/life balance.
I said, “I need to be level-headed enough to handle a crisis–executing carefully strategized crisis plans with a calm voice and steady hand. I also need to be fun, and learn how to laugh even when work is stressful, because the people and the passion are what make working in PR the best job in the world, and no one likes the fuddy duddy who’s all work and no play." God didn't tell me to keep calm, and he certainly didn't tell me to go get drinks with colleagues after a hard day's work.
So, I made myself a PR pro because I’m passionate about communication and continued learning.
I had to learn how to write and edit, and that means writing and reading often, whether for school or pleasure. I need to offer advice and take it. Learn to do things on my own, and work well with others. I need to know what industry trends are changing PR and excel in them. Be an expert in social media even while I’m learning about it. Become the office guru in mobile because I never want to stop learning. Each day, I read more about stats, trends and new technologies that impress me and make me wonder what’s next. This is due to my insatiable curiosity and as a result, I am able to keep up or stay ahead of the curve.
So, I made myself a PR pro because I am my own moral compass.
But above all, I needed to keep a strong moral compass, and this had nothing to do with God. Free will, learning from my mistakes, sticking up for the underdogs, overcoming hardships, and gratitude for opportunities I’ve had have made me an ethical PR professional. Being spellcheck-obsessed in my personal life, my love for NPR, my incessant FourSquare check-ins – these are all attributes, but they don’t make me a PR person. Determination. Humility. Passion. Confidence. Insatiable desire to learn. These all make me a good PR professional. And these are all traits I am proud to say I cultivated through a lifetime of hard work, not because God made me a PR professional.