I always joke that I have a canned speach on public relations for students. It's interactive - and, come on, who doesn't like interactive speeches?!! - but it rings true.
So, here's the outline of the somewhat tongue-in-cheek speech.
- Who here is a people person? For those that raised your hand, the door is to my left. While you might think that being a people person is a good thing for PR, it's more important to be good with people. People persons want to be liked - that's not a luxury we have in PR. You're going to be yelled at by reporters, clients, coworkers. It happens. But, if you are good with people, you'll be able to smooth these rough patches without taking it personally.
- Who here thinks that PR is like Sex and the City? The door is to the left. It's not like Sex and the City, it's not glamorous, and most of the time your client is not going to recognize the hard work put into the campaign, or the credit isn't going to flow down.
- Who here thinks that PR is a 9 to 5 job? The door is to the left. PR is more like an 8 to 7 job, or doing whatever needs to be done to get the job done, and do it right. If you're on the West Coast, you get in early to hit the East Coast press - it's already 10.00 in the morning if you get in by 7.00 - and you need to be billable?
- Who here thinks that PR is a party, that it's all cocktail hours and shmoozing? Again, there is the door. Those parties and cocktail hours take planning, and the planning comes down to the PR department. It's our job to be behind the scenes in tradeshow events, to make sure that everything runs seamlessly. We're like the mice in Cinderella - we make things run well.
- Who here is afraid of telephones, and doesn't like to talk on the phone? Get over the phobia. PR is still a telephone-based industry, despite email and RSS and blogs. It's still about building the relationship over the phone and in person.
- At the end of the day, though, PR is fun. It's stressful, it's exasperating at times, but you do good work, your boss and client knows it, and you go home happy - but exhausted - at the end of the day.
My old job, the PR people used to joke that'd we would rest and slow down when we were dead. It was a joke, because the head of the account would make sure we did detox, and he would take us out for team celebrations (ask me about my Birkenstocks one day).
How do I detox? Well, on the weekends I do sometimes crash and get 10 hours of sleep. But, mostly, it was what a psychic (no harassment on this one) told me to do. I had met him, and he noted that I was a little ball of stress. He told me to take 15 minutes in the morning, and just try to wipe everything away in my mind, to start the day anew each day. So, that's what I try to do, and if that doesn't work, there's always time to play with the puppy.
In the end, though, I love public relations. I love the stress, I live off the chaos, I love the thrill of the chase, the calls and the pitching and the writing. And, I make sure to detox and not overly stress.