Public relations can be one of the most rewarding, creative and overall fun careers out there – as long as you’re working alongside a team that fosters a supportive work environment. There are many reasons why I chose a career in PR, and as a recent college graduate, I know what it’s like facing the abyss of job hunting and deciding what type of career to pursue. For any other recent grads thrust into the real world (or seasoned professionals who may need a spark of inspiration), I’m here to share what drew me to this rewarding career.
Let’s rewind a bit. When I graduated from high school, I combed through my university's list of majors with absolutely no clue what I wanted to pursue. My initial thought was business; it seemed like the most logical and versatile option. After researching marketing programs, I knew working with companies on their messaging sparked my interest. Still, two problems with that degree stood in my way: calculus and a lack of writing.
Numbers are definitely not my thing, but words are. I switched my focus to communications (which did not require calculus) and narrowed my options down to advertising and PR. I liked writing, and I liked talking, so PR it was.
PR was new, challenging and – I later learned – much more than just writing and talking. Taking on the task of a new industry was exciting, and I entered each semester eager to learn more about branding, storytelling, campaign development and even analytics. Heads up, PR students, just because you have a communications degree doesn’t mean you can avoid numbers forever.
After beginning my post-graduation career, I can attest that my first two months as a PR professional have been just as exciting as my professors promised. If you’re unsure if PR is right for you, think about what it offers and if it serves your personal mission.
No day is the same. Ever. Whether you decide to go the agency, brand or vendor route, you’ll face new challenges and opportunities each day, and that variety keeps the job interesting. Most projects have quick turnarounds, with revisions happening in real-time. Instead of letting the fear of the unknown cause unnecessary stress at work, let it excite you and keep your brain churning.
You’ll have to find creative solutions for those constantly changing challenges that appease everyone as quickly as possible. In PR, problems don’t get solved by sleeping on what the best solution is. Becoming attuned to the needs of your clients, brand and team takes experience, but the fun is in facing new obstacles and learning how to navigate them.
Finding creative solutions to problems isn’t the only way you’ll get to use your imagination. For example, I used my creativity to write this blog! But seriously, there are various opportunities for all you right-brainers out there. Being able to craft meaningful and impactful messaging for businesses that don’t have the time or resources to do it themselves puts the responsibility on you as a PR professional to make their product or service stand out against all the noise.
When most people think of what PR professionals do all day, it usually involves talking. Speaking to reporters and the public happens but not as often as typically believed. What’s more important than having big conversations is developing meaningful relationships behind the scenes to make the big moments happen.
Working in PR means you’ll have to build relationships with media, reporters, clients and teammates, and the best work relationships are genuine. Small talk at the beginning of meetings builds trust and empathy between the people with whom you work. Asking how your client’s puppy is – who always joins the Zoom call – won’t just make them chuckle. It’ll show them that you have an authentic desire to do good work for them and their company.
One of the best parts of working in PR is learning about the unique industries in which your agency or brand works. You’re not only in the PR industry but also in tech, fitness, political or nonprofit… New industries, products and services help keep your brain muscles working and can introduce you to topics you never knew existed.
Although you can expect these aspects in any PR job, the day-to-day is different for every PR professional based on your company, job title and industry. PR offers great opportunities to develop your professional career and grow as a communicator outside of the job. Identify what it is about PR that makes you excited to start work each day and, most importantly, what brings you joy.