By Alan Keane, Account Executive
The advantage of having started working in PR on Bloomsday is that the abundance of boater hats in South Dublin offers me an easy way to remember the anniversary.
I started on the 16th of June 2014, with the skies as sunny as my disposition. A new career beckoned and it seemed like the type of career that would be filled with Mad Men type japes.
The first thing I learned is PR is not advertising, and neither is it the 1960s. Therefore my whiskey tumbler remains gathering dust in my desk drawer.
Here are a few more things I’ve learned in the interim 1096 days.
Media relations is still the most crucial aspect of PR
For all the hand-wringing surrounding the future of public relations, there is still a huge demand from clients for coverage in traditional broadcast and print media. You could receive a Wendy’s level of retweets (#nuggsforcarter) and the client would still be more excited by the possibility of ten minutes on Today with Sean O’Rourke.
In order to facilitate this, people who PR must make sure they develop and maintain excellent relationships within the media. This doesn’t mean liking the odd tweet and plying them with mountains of press releases. It means taking the time to make sure the journalist or producer knows and respects you enough to not hide under their desk when you ring.
Developing a good relationship with the media takes time, and requires a respect for the work journalists do. Having a knowledge of deadlines, favoured topics and preferred methods of communication are all worthy pursuits. Ringing a journalist on print day to pitch a story for two weeks later is not. Neither is pitching something as an exclusive if you have already pitched it to ten other media organisations.
The glamorous life of PR is a myth perpetuated by Instagram
I’m definitely guilty of this more than most. I populate my Instagram with stunning press trip locations, mouth-watering food and celeb selfies. If every PR person ran an honest Instagram account, they would show PR plans scribbled hastily in notebooks on the run, bed-head after being woken up by an early Saturday morning call from a journalist (#Iwokeuplikethis), and sad salads being eaten at your desk during lunch as you try and meet a client’s deadline.
It’s still fun though…
See the aforementioned press trips, food and meeting celebrities.
It’s a job that suits all types of personalities.
When I started PR I truly believed that to work in the industry you needed to be an extremely outgoing person. Like, annoyingly outgoing. I mean American levels of outgoing. How else are you going to make the contacts your client needs you to make, right?
Wrong. PR is certainly about connecting with people on a personal level, and being outgoing is a great skill to have, however you can be shy, introverted or damn cranky and still be an excellent PR person. Irish people value honesty and genuine interactions above sycophantic drones.
You’re never done learning.
The fast-paced nature of the PR industry is such that if you slow down, you’re outstripped by your competitors. There’s no time for smug evaluation of how far you’ve come, unless you want it to be your final destination rather than a stop on the journey.
As you can see, I’ve come a long way in three years.