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Are you sensitive to other people's feelings?

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Hopefully, another yes. When working closely with people, it's essential that you be sensitive to and respect their feelings. Again, PR people carry on many different types of relationships. They have to work closely with their own staffs, and on the other hand they have to maintain a productive and professional relationship with their clients. Yet, in each encounter, sensitivity and understanding are called for. When working with a client, for instance, you have to practically anticipate problems and questions before they occur. A good AE tries his best to be one step ahead of his client. A fruitful and lasting relationship is one in which the PR person structures and directs the relationship. During a tense, nerve-racking campaign, an AE, for example, might have to do some creative hand-holding in order to get his client through a tough period. It stands to reason that a client would be nervous if he has invested close to a million dollars in a publicity campaign. As the AE on the account, part of your job is to reassure your client and help him through trying periods. After all, if an elaborate PR campaign fails dismally, millions of dollars could be lost. So it's important that PR worker and client maintain an open, understanding and professional relationship at all times.

Can you make snap decisions and carry them through until completed?

In the words of one high-ranking PR writer, "A public relations worker has to be a 'take charge' person." No truer words were ever spoken. "Take charge" means being able to get things done quickly and efficiently. It also means being able to look at a situation, analyze it and be able to make a decision. Experienced PR workers do this all the time.

Often, in the course of a political campaign, for example, decisions have to be made instantly by the campaign manager. If your client is trying to snare a senate seat and his opponent is gaining ground, you might have to resort to a new and more drastic strategy. This might mean changing course midstream and restructuring your client's campaign strategy.

Time is often a luxury PR workers don't have. If you work for a big New York PR agency, for example, and your agency is bidding for a major oil account, chances are you have to work fast and furiously to get the account. If you're the one who is expected to come up with the strategy that will win the account over, you probably won't have too much time to work on the campaign. The pressure is on you to formulate a PR campaign that will capture this million-dollar account. Here again, quick, resourceful and creative thinking is called for.

Do you have good judgment?

Along with the ability to make snap decisions, good judgment is called for as well. In a client-agency relationship, you, the AE, are the expert when it comes to formulating strategy and analyzing the market. You are the one who has to guide the client along and help him make decisions. Good judgment and an understanding of the marketplace are crucial.

If your account is a new toy company that plans on introducing a new mechanical robot on the market, part of your job is to analyze the toy robot market and make prudent market decisions regarding the most effective sales strategy to employ to introduce the product to the public.

Do you have leadership capabilities?

Few of us are born leaders. For most of us, it's an acquired trait. Yet, leadership abilities are an asset in any job, especially public relations. Agency heads and account executives have to have leadership abilities. Once an important decision is made, they have to make sure that decision is carried out to client specifications. It often means coordinating massive campaigns employing hundreds of people, and directing them and guiding them until the project is completed.

Junior PR workers develop this trait through working and dealing with people on a day-to-day basis. It's not something that is learned overnight. With experience and confidence, conies the ability to administer and lead a campaign, so that it fulfills a client's goals.

Are you a good salesperson?

PR workers have to have salesmanship skills. Instead of selling a product, you are selling your services.

You have to be able to sell yourself. And once you get the job, your next selling effort is capturing new accounts and maintaining existing ones. They all involve salesmanship abilities in one way or another. If you are bidding for a new account, you have to make a convincing case to a prospective client that your particular PR approach is the one that is going to successfully introduce and sell the product. Here again, a variety of PR skills come into play -salesmanship, confidence, good judgment,verbal skills and knowledge of your product.

Does it upset you to work unconventional hours?

There is nothing conventional about public relations work, least of all the hours.

What is different about PR work are the unknowns. It's hard to say beforehand how a workweek will proceed. Often you'll be working a normal nine-to-five day. However, there will be countless days when you'll be coming in at eight and leaving at seven and sometimes you'll have to put in a few hours on Saturday as well.

A client may come into town unexpectedly, and it might mean a dinner meeting or a Saturday breakfast meeting. Or a client may be dissatisfied with a promotional campaign and you'll have to do some emergency revision work. This boils down to an unexpected three to four hours of overtime work.

Or, if you're frantically trying to get your corporate newspaper in the mail on time, you might have to put in a few hours of work to get it done. No matter how you look at it, there is no such thing as a typical work day in public relations.

Do you enjoy doing several things at once?

A busy PR person is inevitably involved in several projects at the same time. If you're at the writing end of the business, you can expect to be coordinating several projects at once. You might be writing three press releases at different points during the day while gathering information for stories that are scheduled to appear in the company house organ.
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