By: Natalie Burns
The alarm has been chirping for over 15 minutes. I know it’s early, and I don’t want to get up. I think of a hot cup of coffee, and I am able to open my tired eyes. My alarm says 6:30 a.m. I am up, coffee in hand, iPhone in the other. Days begin early and end late in the life of a public relations professional.
I stare at my long list of emails that surged in since I left the office last night. I stare blankly with my glossy eyes, adjusting the e-mails from the most important to the least. I start making a checklist, even though the one from yesterday is still incomplete. There just isn’t enough time in the day. The company I work for is launching a new product, and I need to coordinate what feels like a million things. A press conference needs to be arranged, and I have to make a list of all the attendees, as well as print all the literature for the product. I also need to manage the social media, and help design a brochure. Press kits needs to be formulated, and accommodations for the conference need to be arranged. I have to think of everything for the press conference, including what kind of bagels people will want. I need to get Michael on the phone from the Alkera Chronicle to talk about the press release. Deadlines are racking up minute by minute, and I can feel the pressure rising up from my stomach to my head.
This is how I imagine a typical day would be in the world of PR.
Every student that studies public relations has been asked the question, “So, what kind of job are you going to be doing?” There are so many answers; it takes me at least five minutes to explain. A typical day in the life of a PR professional is not a walk in the park, and that’s why I chose it! I love to know that every day is going to be different. To me, it’s exhilarating to know that the type of work I engage in will be filled with a lot of hype and buzz.
I often question my sanity for choosing my profession, as I have done my research. PR is not for the weak and lazy. As it’s true that you need to be both a good writer and speaker, you also have to be able to deal with multiple personalities, and put out fires in a flash. If you’re looking for the typical nine to five, PR is not the job for you! PR jobs on nearly all levels are loaded with stress. Typically, people who work in this field thrive off the commotion and excitement. Deadlines dominate your to-do list, and juggling different projects are vital. So, if you’re quick on your feet, a strategic planner, and at the same time the world’s biggest suck up then PR might be just the field for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you jump into the hectic world of public relations.
1. Are you a transformer?
Literally. Are you able to instantaneously morph yourself and change how you handle situations to best meet the needs of your client? Can you schmooze the media and answer tough questions during a press conference? If you are good at juggling different personalities and hobnobbing at an event, then this field may be the one for you.
2. Can you manage numerous duties and meet deadlines?
Are your multi-tasking skills up to par? Are you able to write press releases, plan an event, answer emails, design brochures, post on social media, and meet your clients for lunch all in the same day? PR is heavy with hour-to-hour chores.
3. Can you build relationships and keep them?
The entire focus of the work in public relations is to build relationships with the people who buy the products, use the services, or have other affiliations with the company you represent. Depending on the type of client that you are representing, there are many ways to spread the word. Once the word is out, being able to maintain those relationships on a corresponding level is key.
4. Do you want to be the face of a company?
Building relationships are one thing, but being the face of your company is another. You are a professional, and you have to act like one. This means knowing what is appropriate at all costs, and understanding the ethics behind your job.
5. Are you creative and strategic?
Can you come up with a quick design for a brochure? Could you lay out plans for the launch of a product in Ireland? Would you be able to think of everything at an event that involves over 2,500 people? PR professionals use their creative skills to not only plan big events, but to think fast in sticky situations that may involve journalists and the media. When you’re the go to, it’s your job to make sure that everyone is happy. Even if you thought you thought of everything — think more.
Writing press releases, planning book signings, booking your company big shots as guest lecturers, newsletter production, blogging, tweeting, and attending speaking engagements are only a few of the numerous tasks during a typical day as a PR professional. If this sounds like something you thrive on, well jump on in!
Natalie Burns is a public relations major and marketing minor. Her writing, communication, and multitasking skills have allowed her to do especially well in her field. She has an outgoing, bubbly personality. Natalie is currently a public relations intern at SOS Community Services in downtown Ypsilanti. She is also Chief Financial Officer of PRSSA. Connect with her via Twitter @burns_natalie and Instagram @natattack03. Follow her blog at natalierb.wordpress.com.