By Leah Henderson, Account Associate
I recently finished my first public relations internship (woohoo!) after college and am able to take a sigh of relief; I can now confirm that I did in fact make the right decision to study PR and that my degree is going to good use. I learned a lot studying PR, but of course, I didn’t really understand what working in the industry was like until I actually did just that. I’m feeling extremely lucky having pursued a career that I love in practice and not just in the classroom as I see many of my peers going through the opposite reality. Having said that, ideally I would have confirmed this earlier, just in case I ended up in that unlucky group of peers.
So here are five questions everyone should consider before they invest in a career in PR.
1. Are you highly creative AND highly organized?
I grew up thinking there was a rigid dichotomy between creativity and organization, and that I couldn’t be creative, imaginative, and intuitive while also being organized, analytical, and efficient. There is nothing I have found to greater dispel this left brain vs. right brain absurdity than PR. For instance, being dealt the task of continuously getting your client’s message heard amid all the media noise requires equal parts wild creativity and calculated reason.
2. Do you work well under stress?
Simply put, things will go wrong. After all, part of your job description is managing crises.
3. Do you have good time management?
Whenever someone asks me what a typical day looks like, which happens a lot, I have to laugh because there really is no “typical” day. Even as an intern, you’re not just writing press releases all day (which is what I had thought might be the case). Being able to efficiently manage a lengthy list of long term and short term deadlines is a crucial part of the job.
4. How are your writing skills?
For me, studying PR in college was a lot of theory, case studies, and ethics. That’s all been very helpful, but I didn’t quite understand just how much writing I would be doing in practice or how diverse my writing skills would need to be. It is common to jump back and forth from writing a blog, to a pitch, to a briefing doc, to a speech, to a tweet, plus many, many emails all in one day.
5. Do you enjoy staying current?
Part of your job will be staying current and in the know, both generally and in the specific industries of your clients. This means staying on top of industry/consumer trends, doing lots of research, and following/maintaining relationships with industry influencers. So you can’t be “too cool for school.” You will find that, even in your free time, you can’t help but think about your clients and how they might connect to the world around you.
So if you said an overwhelming “HELL NO!” to any of the above, then you may want to consider pursuing something else. Alternatively, if you said an enthusiastic, “YES, YES, YES!” then lucky you, you’re probably on the right path!