Public Relations Profile
- Can you work well under pressure?
- Do you enjoy challenging situations?
- Can you take criticism?
- Are you an organized person?
- Do you work well with people?
- Do you consider yourself an articulate person?
- Do you have a good imagination?
- Are you sensitive to other people's feelings?
- Can you make snap decisions and carry them through?
- Do you have good judgment?
- Do you have leadership capabilities?
- Are you a good salesperson?
- Does it upset you to work unconventional hours?
- Do you enjoy doing several things at once?
Can you work under pressure?
If your answer was no, you should strongly question whether public relations is the field for you. No one enjoys working under pressure all the time, yet it is something PR workers have to con tend with. It's safe to say that all public relations workers, regardless of the field, have to deal with a certain amount of on-the-job pressure. Some fields, such as entertainment or certain government and corporate PR that are involved with national security or high-priority products, are more apt to be high-pressure fields than others. As mentioned earlier, PR workers employed by transportation companies have more pressures to contend with than other public relations workers.
Some of us can tolerate a great deal of pressure; others cannot. Many workers find a certain amount of pressure stimulating; others recoil in the face of it. Pressure can be crippling if you don't know how to cope with it. Some fields have more than their fair share of on-the-job pressures. Advertising, public relations and journalism (print and broadcast), for example, are high-pressure fields.
Pressure is an inescapable part of PR work, and it's a good idea to come to terms with that element of the job before you seriously pursue the field.
Do you enjoy challenging situations?
Challenge is a PR worker's middle name. No matter what aspect of public relations work you're involved in, you can expect challenge every step of the way. That applies to the agency's role in trying to acquire new clients, the account executive's part in acting as the creative middleperson between agency and client, and the PR writer/strategist who designs promotional campaigns, prepares press kits and distributes promotional literature.
In highly competitive areas, such as entertainment and industrial PR, the overriding challenge is often to merely hold on to the account. PR agencies are performing a service which the client pays for. If the agency fails to meet its obligations and does not service the account properly, the client dismisses the agency. If it's an account that produces enormously high revenues for the agency (such as a major oil company the likes of Mobil or an international conglomerate like Warner Communications), heads will roll and a number of PR representatives will find themselves out on the street looking for new jobs. So PR work is anything but dull.
Can you take criticism?
In the process of working your way up the career ladder, you have to be prepared to accept and profit from criticism. As we said earlier when discussing the process of preparing a tight, tersely written press release, junior writers can spend hours preparing a single press release. When that release is completed, it's often heavily edited, and sometimes rewritten by a senior member of the staff. That's how junior writers become senior writers, and senior writers go on to become administrators.
Not everyone absorbs criticism the same way. Some of us are not able to separate our egos from our work and take criticism personally. Others, however, are able to absorb it and learn from it. If you view criticism as part of the process of mastering your job, you'll be able to move ahead quickly.
Being able to absorb criticism is an important part of public relations work. In fact, you can expect it on all levels, not just as a junior writer or researcher. Account executives have to field criticism from their clients. The first person a client complains to, is not the head of the PR agency, but the AE servicing the account.
As in advertising, criticism in public relations often operates in a boomerang syndrome. If a client is not satisfied with the way a pro motional campaign is going, he'll call up his AE and complain.
Naturally, the AE is upset and apologetic and promises to straighten out the situation immediately. "It's as good as taken care of," he says to the client cordially, promising to be back to him within the hour with some changes and recommendations. Our AE appears calm and confident. But that's only the external appearance. Underneath, he's seething because he feels other staff members didn't prepare the client's PR campaign to specifications.
Seconds after he hangs up the phone he barges into the editor in chief's office to find out why the campaign didn't meet client expectations. The editor in chief is now upset and calls in the writer who prepared the press release and promotional literature. And on and on down the ladder.
As you can see, criticism has a way of rebounding until everyone is involved. Yet, there are good reasons for it. If the problems are not solved, the agency stands to lose the account.