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Are you an organized person?

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In a busy public relations firm you can expect to be doing a number of things at once. Planning, coordination and organization are essential. No matter what department you work for you'll have deadlines to contend with.

If you're a PR writer working on three accounts at the same time, you might be facing a series of deadlines. Two press releases might be due in three days, while the following week a press kit and lengthy interview are scheduled to be presented to your clients for approval. Your days are hectic and crammed with work. To get it all done, organization is essential.

An account executive also faces organizational problems. If a number of your clients are clamoring for their promotional literature and demand attention immediately, as AE you have to find that harmonious chord which will satisfy all of them. PR work requires an organized person who can create workable and flexible systems that permit him to get the work done. Without system and organization, you'll be wallowing in confusion and will never get anything done on time.

Do you work well with people?

Public relation is a people business. Whether you work in non-profit, corporate, government or agency PR, you'll be interacting with people most of the day. In an agency, for example, you'll work closely with fellow staff members and clients. Each relationship is different and requires a different kind of input. When working with staff members, your goal is to get the work done on time and to client specifications.

In a large public relations agency account executives, art directors, publicity, editorial and administrative personnel all work together. In sum, within any business day, you'll be talking and dealing with dozens of different people.

The client relationship is a little different. Here, flexibility, understanding and sensitivity to the business relationship are essential. Your job is to maintain a friendly and productive relationship at all times. This isn't always easy. Not every client is going to be that easy to deal with. While the majority of your clients will pre sent few problems, others may be demanding and difficult to work with. The challenge is being able to deal with all of them. Again, the experienced PR worker can work productively with all clients, regardless of their personalities or their outrageous demands. As the head of one small PR agency that specializes in industrial accounts said, "Working with people is an art. It's a lot harder than a lot of people realize."

What it all means is that PR representatives have to use tact and diplomacy as skillfully as they use words in maintaining productive business relationships.

Do you consider yourself an articulate person?

PR people communicate on many different levels. In the course of a business day, you might be writing, speaking and coordinating various projects. Part of your day might be confined to writing, while the remainder of the day you're in conferences or working directly with clients.

Account executives, for example, spend the better part of their day working with clients. Since they are the liaison between agency and client, they need good verbal skills and an easygoing, persuasive manner.

Being with and talking to people comes easily to PR people. They are good at it and enjoy doing it. Like salespeople in other businesses, they enjoy communicating on a one-to-one basis. Some of us are better at this than others. You've heard the expression, "He's a born salesman." That statement can be true. For some, verbal communication comes naturally, while others have to work a little harder at it before they can get to the stage where they interact comfortably with others.

A confident AE, for instance, feels comfortable with anyone and is able to communicate effortlessly. In fact, junior PR workers are often amazed at how easily experienced AEs get along with people. They are very much like experienced actors and actresses who can portray a variety of characters at a moment's notice. This trait is a real asset when working for a general PR agency with many different types of accounts. In the course of a workweek, you might be dealing with nuclear physicists, car salespeople, chemists and construction engineers. Each group is different, yet the experienced PR person is able to get along with all of them. It's not easy and for some it takes years to develop this ability.

Do you have a good imagination?

Hopefully, your answer was yes. By now you know PR workers wear many different hats. In every sense of the word they are Renaissance people who pride themselves on being multifaceted.

You have to be prepared to use your imagination in order to formulate a strategy that best meets your client's objectives. Every product and service requires a unique PR strategy. The challenging part is devising a suitable PR campaign for your client's product. Would you promote perfume, breakfast cereal and designer jeans the same way? The answer is a resounding no. If it's a big account, such as Dow Chemical, General Foods, U.S. Steel or International Business Machines (IBM), it's quite common for several PR agencies to bid for the account. This is where creativity comes into play. If a number of major PR agencies are bidding for these prestigious accounts, they will do everything in their power to impress these potential clients with creative and innovative public relations strategies.
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