Confessions of a PR professional: What is it really like to work in PR?

True Confessions: A confessions of a pr professionalmillion miles away from all the expensive lunches and glamorous product launches publicised by AdFab to a more pragmatic world where the driven and successful practitioner has to think on their feet and consistently deliver creative strategies…

There are two things you must accept when you choose to enter into the PR profession: the first is no one completely understanding what you do (after six years some of my family still think I’m a journalist and friends believe I’m a PA?!) and the second is that articles lovingly pitched, drafted and submitted by you will have someone else’s name by-lined at the top of the page.

Aside from this, the world of PR is one of the most fast-moving, exciting and challenging industries I can think of. Not only do you have to juggle the expectations of your clients, but you also have to ensure that you meet internal and media deadlines, multi-task your way through numerous client accounts, ensuring your bosses are happy with the amount of coverage you’re generating, all whilst you’re trying to get your head around sectors that you never thought you’d ever find yourself reading about and keeping up-to-date with the latest news and views from around the globe; as a result, PR does make you a great person to meet at a dinner party, as you’ll always be able to talk about something, no matter how random!

Having worked in-house and for both small and international corporate agencies, I’m particularly well versed to explore the reality of PR, both in-house and on the agency side.

In-house is great if you’re particularly passionate and knowledgeable in one sector, and want to focus on one area; but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy ride, as you’re the first in the firing line by stressed journalists who want a last-minute comment for their deadline in a matter of minutes or are constantly chased by the management team for an annual coverage summary for an important presentation.

Agency life is similar in many ways, but your ability to quickly pick up new industries and develop excellent time management skills will certainly put you in good stead for running a strong PR account. You’re able to try your hand at almost everything, such as research, writing, talking to the media, client liaison, pitching, (hopefully) winning new business, managing events and not forgetting the dull admin that everyone has to look after – including keeping the dreaded timesheets updated!

As cheesy as it sounds, PR really is one of those industries where every day is different; not only within day to day client accounts, but also because the face of PR, and the media generally, changes almost on a daily basis. There is always a new blog or social media platform which promises to be the latest thing, or new insights, analysis tools and evaluation methods emerge which will help to wow clients with your fantastic coverage or social media reach.

Boredom is simply not an option, as there is always something to do.

Perhaps the most rewarding change I have seen in the six years I have been in the consultancy business after a stint in-house, is the recognition of the crucial role of PR by corporates. The fact that PR’s pride of place on clients’ corporate agendas positions the practitioner on an equal footing with other professional advisers, such as lawyers and accountants. Nowadays customers ‘get PR’ and understand that to lose market share in business is often recoverable (and PR will play a vital role here), but to lose one’s reputation is a different matter and if unchecked may become terminal!

The real buzz comes from seeing your coverage land on the page; there’s nothing better than receiving recognition from clients and colleagues. It makes all the stress worthwhile, as there is a lot more to securing PR coverage than simply securing ‘a nice write-up.’

If you genuinely have a passion for writing, enjoy communicating, have a thirst for learning about practically any sector and drive to securing media coverage and keeping your clients happy, then PR is for you! If not, well, you may be my next client!

This blog post was written by Pippa Clark.

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One thought on “Confessions of a PR professional: What is it really like to work in PR?

  1. Excellent piece Pippa. You’ve summed it up perfectly. The Montpellier team are a great crowd – very professional, extremely hard-working and a joy to work for. And they’ve got a nice stash of awards on the mantelpiece too which tells its own story…

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