Working in PR sometimes feels like a never ending learning curve. And in the best of ways. It's not just that you learn about new clients, their different propositions and - if you're lucky - how they're trying to challenge the status quo, but you also learn loads about how people work. In the best of worlds, you can channel those learnings into something much bigger than just your daily work of developing media strategies and pitching journos. In other words, I count myself incredibly lucky to get to learn so much about myself and others on a daily basis - below are three of many things working in PR has taught me, and how I believe they've turned me into a better person.
No idea is bullshit
This is obviously not true. Plenty of ideas are bullshit, and perhaps particularly in the VC drenched world of startups (AI-powered water bottles, anyone?). Nevertheless, in one of my first PR jobs our team had quarterly brainstorming sessions aptly named No Idea is Bullshit (or NIIBS). The point was for the entire growth team to come together and discuss different ways of cutting through the noise even though we had much smaller budgets than the corporate competition. If you walk in with a judgy mind, chances are you'll be pretty pessimistic about ideas that sound rubbish at first but might develop into something wonderfully fun, quirky and sales optimising. Over the past year I've been a one man PR team and I've had to do a lot of brainstorms on my own (a challenge if there ever was one!). If I hadn't been taught that NIIBS, chances are I would've beaten myself up for not coming up with great ideas in a split second. And this scales way beyond PR - you learn to be humble, think way outside the infamous box, and push ideas and conversations further, just to see where they might lead.
Kindness aka diplomacy is key
As a PR you try to please several different stakeholders at once - clients, clients' clients as well as owners, board members and/or investors, journos, readers, policy makers, and a whole bunch of other people. They often go hand in hand, but just as often there might be a clash of what the journo wants to write and what the client wants to be written. Your job as a PR is to bridge the two. That's not always an easy feat - and indeed, that's what makes the job so much fun - and to be able to navigate you need to master the skill of diplomacy. Diplomacy, in turn, is dependent on you being kind and a pleasant person to work with. If you fail to demonstrate an understanding of what's important to the stakeholder you're in conversation with, regardless of whether that's the journo or the client, you're likely to get nowhere. Working in PR forces you to carefully consider the (often much) bigger picture, something that's been hugely useful for me in my personal life as well.
Rejection leaves room for perfection
I'm a sensitive soul and when I was younger I struggled with rejection or any kind of criticism that wasn't obviously constructive and presented in a diplomatic manner. That sort of attitude or approach towards life does not go down very well in PR, where rejection is rampant. If you can't deal with rejection, you can't work in PR. Simple as. I was terrified the first - and the second and the tenth - time I had to do a sell-in over the phone, but every time a journalist rejected my pitch I was forced to ask why, and what I could do to improve the pitch or the story. Why? Because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to explain the rejection to my client, which in the worst case scenario could have resulted in me losing my job. Working in PR has forced me to stop taking things so personally, and rather start listening to what people are saying so that I can adapt accordingly, in my professional as well as my personal life.
Working in PR is sometimes hard, but I'm also fairly confident it's one of the most fun jobs out there. Not just because you get to shout great ideas from the rooftops, or because of the addictive hit of adrenaline when coverage goes live, but also because you learn so many new things constantly. It's one of the many reasons why I love my job, and also one of the reasons why I can't see myself venturing into another field. #PRlife 4 life.