5 signs you should work in PR

Addicted to your smartphone? Love to write? Can stay cool under pressure? You may have what it takes to be a PR pro.


College students across the country are about to begin the annual tradition of pounding Red Bulls and working around the clock to finish papers and study for exams. At the same time, seniors worry about getting their first jobs while underclassmen compete for summer internships to boost their resumes.

It is with these job-seeking students in mind that I offer the following five signs you are meant to work in PR:

1. You are an iPhone addict.

You can tweet, text and talk on the phone at the same time. And yes, you actually talk on your phone. You know when a live conversation is necessary and when an email or text is OK.

2. You are the resident dorm proofreader.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Samantha on “Sex and the City” lied to you. Most PR people spend more time writing or editing than they do attending swanky parties with socialites and celebrities. You need to be able to identify a good story and concisely articulate it to achieve success in PR.

3. You are a media junkie.

You know which YouTube videos people share most, who George Zimmerman is, what happened with the Kony 2012 campaign, which presidential candidate rode with his dog in a crate on the top of his car and which one ate dog meat. And, you are never far from Twitter.

A colleague of mine once said, “PR people are like ‘Jeopardy’ players, we know a little about everything.” While I prefer to think of us as the people who take it all on “Cash Cab,” the truth is you need to be part walking encyclopedia of bizarre knowledge, part pop-culture junkie, and part news addict to really do well in PR.

If you pride yourself on being the first of your friends to know all the latest—from celebrity gossip to breaking business news and political missteps—a PR career may be right for you.

4. You remain cool under pressure.

From a client crisis to losing press materials for a trade show, PR people deal with the unexpected nearly every day. Sometimes you have to be creative. I was once at an event without tape to hang signs to direct attendees to the sign-in table, event room, etc. After I looked high and low for a place to buy tape—without success—I purchased a few packs of gum. We stuck the signs to the wall with gum.

If you are the kind of person who can roll with the punches and find solutions, PR is for you. If you are more inclined to yell “Fire!” and run down the hall, you may want a less hectic career.

5. You are a stalker.

Among the traits I look for in an entry-level candidate are an inquisitive nature and an ability to find information. Nothing will stop the stalker from finding and reaching the journalist who is a perfect fit for the pitch. The stalker knows exactly where and how to find relevant information and never says she doesn’t know something she could easily find on Google.

It sounds simple, but sometimes it’s not. You must know when you need more information and how to find it. It sounds straightforward, but a small change in Google search terms is the difference between hundreds of pages of irrelevant information and the killer statistic you need to make your press release work. And yes, good PR people think statistics can be killer.

If you are a stalker who knows how to remain calm, has great writing skills, is addicted to your smartphone and all of its apps, are not afraid of hard work and occasional late nights in the office, PR might be the career for you.

Laura Finlayson is vice president and director of digital strategy at Beckerman, and contributes to Beckerman Voices, where a version of this article originally ran.

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Topics: PR

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