33 (more) signs you work in PR

No. 20: ‘Caffeine and alcohol, in that order.’ If you can relate, there’s a good chance you work in public relations.


Editor’s note: As many readers know, this isn’t the first story Ragan or sister site PRDaily have published on signs you work in PR. Though there is some overlap with this rendition and other versions, we have a feeling readers can relate to many of the items listed below.

Public relations is a notoriously stressful career.

This year it earned the rank of seventh-most stressful job in America, a drop from last year when it was No. 2—ahead of airline pilots. To which I beg to differ. Lives are not in our hands, after all.

Of course, PR can be stressful. We are, for the most part, at the mercy of forces beyond our control. The right pitch has to edge up against the right timing and the right reporter for any great placement to happen.

It takes a certain kind of personality to thrive in public relations. Read any PR job listing, and you’ll see requirements such as: detail-oriented, excellent writing skills, multitasker, organized, energetic, blah blah blah…

Yes, PR people must embody these traits, but excelling at PR requires a number of intangibles. It’s a gut feeling we’re looking for when we interview candidates; it just cannot be quantified in a job posting.

To provide a better sense of what those intangibles are, here’s a list of 33 signs that you work in public social media and PR:

1. The five scariest words you fear all day are, “Why aren’t we in this?” (from the hilarious @lmokaba)

2. In grade school, your teachers noted that you were a “social butterfly” on your report cards (not in a good way).

3. You’ve disabled all your notifications on your mobile devices and your computer. You don’t need them. You know you have at least 50 emails, five direct messages on Twitter, and 10 texts.

4. When you see a great story in the press, your first thought is, “Who placed that story?”

5. You scrutinize every word you write. Yes, there is a difference between “over” and “more than!” (Just ask Steve.)

6. You’d never buy a gift for a reporter, but you would retweet him or her to show that you are paying attention.

7. You’re surprised to hear that people still use desktops.

8. When the iPhone first came out you sacrificed function for image. Yes, you had to figure out a new way to manage your tasks because they no longer synced the way they had on your BlackBerry, but it was worth it.

9. You know what a “muscular verb” is.

10. A “day off” means only checking email every 15 minutes while you are physically out of the office.

11. In your personal life, when people try to help you stuff invitations, assemble gift bags, etc., you take over the project because you can do it more quickly.

12. When a friend tells you an amazing story over drinks about how she saved a lost dog or saw an ostrich along the side of the highway, you say, “I could get that on TV.”

13. Your grandmother wants to know when your article will be published in The New York Times. You just tell her “soon.”

14. Your friends ask you to compose their apology letters.

15. You can identify people at meetings, tradeshows, and on the street based solely on their Twitter avatar photos (h/t @lmokaba).

16. People assume you attend parties and meet celebrities for a living (and you let them think so, because it’s better than the reality of being chained to your phone and laptop).

17. You could easily hold the record for the most lists on Twitter, but there’s no formal way to measure that yet.

18. You still have Google alerts set up for past clients just to see what type of coverage they are getting (again, h/t @lmokaba).

19. You might use terms such as “boilerplate” and “hashtag” during happy hour conversation.

20. Caffeine and alcohol, in that order.

21. You have a running list of jargon that you ban from all writing. And you judge others who use those terms.

22. You are perfectly capable of writing a press release while tweeting, updating Facebook, and watching “Mad Men” at the same time.

23. You justify new clothing and accessories by telling yourself and others that you are “in the image business.”

24. You believe that all customer service reps will give you what you want if you approach the conversation the proper way. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Twitter.

25. You use Google+ because it increases the SEO for your content and all of the reporters you work with are on there—not because you like it (at least not yet).

26. If you are unable to find a piece of information, it’s not findable.

27. You take pride in finding typos in the novels you read (and you consider notifying the publisher).

28. You know and use proofing marks.

29. You have entire conversations with your colleagues using buzzwords just to crack each other up (another great one from @lmokaba).

30. You sleep with your iPhone.

31. Your answer to most questions that begin with, “Do you think it’s possible to…” is “yes.”

32. You write headlines in 140 characters (actually, 120 is ideal—to leave room for retweets).

33. “Speechless” is a foreign word.

Beth Monaghan is a principal and co-founder of InkHouse Media + Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter at @bamonaghan. A version of this story first appeared on the InkHouse blog.

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Topics: PR

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