Working in Public Relations is like being a middle-child: We’re behind the scenes, in the centre of all the action, but nobody really understands us. We’re trained to memorize names, reach, and klout score like the alphabet. We feed off our relationships, network like it’s a piece of cake, and welcome stress with a smile (and a lot of tears). Despite the illusion of calmness, insanity of media events and long hours, we keep going, because we know that one day, the hard work will pay off.
These are the 10 things only women in PR will understand:
- Nobody really knows what PR is
The question: “So, what do you do?” (Ugh.) Parents, partners, best friends, random guys at the bar, media plus ones, you name it–nobody actually knows what it means to work in Public Relations.
No, I am not Cher from Clueless. I don’t wear yellow plaid dress suits to work. The thought of running around in high heels for a work event makes me want to projectile vomit.
The answer: “It’s hard to explain.” (Most people will stop listening after you say the words, “I secure media coverage.” That’s when you face-palm sigh and change the conversation.)
- A media event is the next most stressful thing in life, next to natural childbirth
Event Coordinator was listed #5 on CareerCast.com’s 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2014. From the first idea, to the pitch, confirmation, follow-up, location, spokesperson, partnerships, sponsorships, swag bags and catering–we’re responsible for EVERYTHING. It’s like natural childbirth–unmedicated, without a pillow, and everyone is staring at you. Events can make or break you, and there’s a 99% chance you’ll call your mother frantically crying because something went wrong. In any case, rain or shine, the event must go on–and when the event is a complete success, you feel like a million dollars (for approximately one hour), and then it’s over. If it fails, you cry and watch an episode of House of Cards and pretend the whole thing never happened.
- Rejection is like getting stabbed in the heart with a high heel
Rejection sucks. You’re trying your best to make your client’s latest news sound interesting, and you genuinely think media will be interested.
“No, sorry. Not interested.”
It’s heartbreaking. You die a little inside. Then you call again. And again. Once more. Only to be rejected, hung up and completely ignored a few more times. You are the annoying missed call and junk mail, and you know it.
It hurts. But after working in PR for more than six months, your skin develops a rough, repellent outer layer like crocodile skin. It’s just another part of the job I guess. Moisturizer barely helps.
- You have nightmares about spelling mistakes
It’s happened to me multiple times. Press releases, website copy, blog posts, Facebook content–you name it. Somewhere, there’s a horrifying spelling mistake, and it’s too late to fix it. The other day I forgot to add the extra “e” in coffee on a hand-written menu; you can imagine the gaping hole of embarrassment I felt when I noticed it the day after the media event.
I know for certain that when (or if) I die of a heart attack, the nurse in the ambulance will murmur over my cold, half-dead body, “You should have spell-checked it, girl.”
- Buzzwords are like crack
If you work in PR, you’re probably used to using these buzzwords: Leverage, low-hanging fruit, synergy, ground-breaking, exclusive, disruptive, out-of-the-box, engaging, dynamic, deliverables, going forward, ongoing, end-user, win-win, touch base, innovative, real-time, follow-up, cutting edge, user-friendly, cross-platform and client-centric. We can’t help it, okay? It’s addictive–like crack.
- “I work in PR” is the best Tumblr of all time
We love it. It’s a guilty pleasure and an inside-joke between you and anyone who works in PR. You’ll often lose track of time and waste twenty minutes looking at it. You’ll feel bad, justify it, and then forward it to fellow colleagues to make yourself feel better about wasting time. It is the Holy Grail of the inside PR world, and it’s hilarious.
- Being a creepy Internet stalker is the only way to find influencers
We creep hard. We track follower counts, conversation patterns, affiliations and topics. We know how many kids our “target influencers” have, how many people clicked on their last article, and who their best friends are. We also know their audiences and what kinds of hobbies they like. We even know how many people mentioned “almond milk” in the last year (20,980) and how many times a website was clicked from a tweet. It’s creepy and weird, but we have to do it.
- You can’t commit to making plans because you always cancel at the last minute
I rarely follow through with plans. My friends think I’m a real jerk because I cancel at the last minute, which is why I stopped making plans altogether.
The truth is, when shit hits the fan at work, I’m the one with a broom and a can of Febreeze. I’m the one cleaning up the havoc after the workday is over. When you work long hours and you forget to wash your hair after five days, maintaining a work-life balance can be tough. So instead, we cancel (and then pass out at 9 p.m. from exhaustion).
- There is no such thing as a 9-5 workday
Sure, 9-5 may exist somewhere in a small town in Europe. But when you’re in PR; it doesn’t. You stay until you finish your work, then you check your emails on your commute home, then you sign in when you get back home. Then you send more emails at odd hours of the night because everyone else is doing the same thing. It’s insane. But you enjoy it anyways.
- You often brag about being in the same room with a celebrity
Galen Weston doesn’t count. Stop it.