Why a career in PR?

Someone asked me over the weekend would I recommend a career in Public Relations. I immediately said yes, but when they asked for specific reasons why, I actually had to stop and think about it.

Our profession is widely misunderstood and often mistrusted, I thought it might be a useful exercise to pool our thoughts on why PR offers a rewarding (or not) career.

I’ve penned some themes below, please feel free to add your thoughts and questions in the comments section or e-mail me them for a subsequent post. After all good communication starts at home!

A career in PR is challenging. It’s challenging because the work you’ll be doing changes from day to day or even from hour to hour. You can move from writing a speech to pitching the media to dealing with a full blown crisis in a couple of hours. While the constant change can be stressful it’s also invigorating.

The ranges of skills you need to hone to be a successful practitioner are broad. You need to be a great listener, a skilled communicator, a great writer and most importantly be able to think quickly and clearly, making decisions on the fly. The fact that all these skills are used and required on a daily basis makes for an intellectually challenging career.

PR transcends market- and geographic barriers. It is practiced in every single country on the planet and it is practiced in every market sector in those countries.

The differences in PR practiced in different markets are often marked. For example the daily responsibilities and tasks of a practitioner in the fashion or entertainment business compared to someone working in manufacturing or business-to-business technology market are often polar opposites. This means that the profession attracts a wide diversity of personalities. I’ve had the good fortune to meet with practitioners in different industries and countries and while their jobs are often markedly different to mine there are many common elements that bring us together.

The fantastic thing about this diversity is that regardless of your interests there is probably an area of PR suited to your skills.

Related to the last point, the people attracted to the world of PR vary from star-struck fashionistas to accounting majors. There is an amazing diversity of people, but for the most part, regardless of the industry or geography I’ve always been impressed with them. Like any profession there are those who bring it into disrepute – and in PR those practitioners are often high profile – but 99% of practitioners are impressive people and professionals.

One of the most refreshing elements of Public Relations is re-education. PR is a dynamic profession, it’s always changing. Our audiences change and as a result we must respond. This constant drive to map changing attitudes, behaviors and habits is invigorating. You simply never stop learning.

Finally, when you’ve done a good job, the planets are aligned and your zodiac is balanced there is a fantastic sense of achievement when a campaign comes off successfully. I still hear people talking about the buzz of success. You can’t get that in every job.

So there are some initial reasons why I’d recommend a job in Public Relations.

Of course it’s not all wine and roses. It is hard work and it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. It can require long hours, it’s regularly stressful and you are often dealing with elements that are out of your control. But even taking that into account, PR is a rewarding, invigorating career choice. As a raw marketing graduate my perception of PR was all “Absolutely Fabulous” I wanted nothing to do with it. Fourteen years later I can only smile at my ignorance. I was lucky that I fell into it.