How do you know whether you are cut out for Public Relations?
In general, a PR practitioner should have the ability to make good judgments, work well under pressure, possess strong verbal, written and negotiation skills, be a good listener and a quick learner, exude confidence and finally embrace and be sensitive to diversity.
There are few personality traits that you should have if you want to become a PR pro. Any personality type that is considered ‘open’ is welcome in this industry. This means that the person needs to be curious, quick to grasp new ideas, creative, positive and a good listener. If you are not curious you will not ask the right questions. A good listener gets the right answers. Creative people come up with best solutions. In the dynamic landscape of PR, you need to quickly grasp digital advancements in the industry.
Another trait that most people overlook is empathy. PR practitioners get caught up in regulating the information generated by the organization and forget that communications is two-way; the audience should be able to give feedback and have their questions answered. It also takes dedication to work in public relations. A lot of research and planning goes into everything done. It is never enough to have one plan. We all know the horror of discovering a supplier has pulled out just hours before an event. Transition between plans should be seamless. If anything, your client or CEO should think of you as a miracle worker.
Patience and ability to keep calm are welcomed in any organization. It is never pleasant when a top manager or even a lower level employee looses their cool when something goes wrong as it seems to always be the case. There will always be a difficult client to deal with so a person should be able to get along with a variety of people. Tact is also a key attribute. You need to be able to advise a client on the best way forward without making their ideas seem amateur.
Before you despair, it is highly unlikely for a person to have all the attributes listed. This is why a good PR team needs to have a mixture of personalities, each with a different attributes that allows them to thrive in their distinct roles. In PR you will find big thinkers, relationship builders, planning tacticians, brand advocates, strategists, creatives, analysers, corporate experts, charity organizers and great crisis communications managers. As an individual you should know what you are best at and find a role that fits. Freelancers however need to become jacks of all trades.
There is a misconception that PR tends to attract only sociable people but what most people forget is that there is a commercial aspect in PR in sectors such as mining, energy, transport and such like economic industries. PR is a business, it is not all about pitching over long lunches with potential clients and planning product launches. If you find yourself easily discouraged by rejection or when things become a nightmare, or have the inability to problem solve, then PR is not for you.