I’ve been in the public relations business long enough to know there are quite a few different types of PR personalities.
Of course, each individual has a set of unique characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make that person unlike anyone else. Still, it’s funny how, regardless of where I’ve been, whether consulting or in-house at a large corporation or a small or large non-profit, there are communications stock characters everywhere.
Check out the below eight categories I’ve encountered. Do you fit one of these?
1. The lifestyle lady. This is the gal (or guy) who giggles a lot and has lots of ideas that center on women’s lifestyle magazines. She has a few contacts with “Today” show producers and is all about products. She tends to carry around a magical “Mary Poppins” purse that contains remedies for any given situation. She’s got foundation to cover those blemishes for the pop-up TV interview, a golf umbrella to cover her client for the pop-up thunderstorm and no less than three electronic devices that she’s juggling at any given moment, all of which have distinct ringtones from 1980s cartoon theme songs.
2. The eager beaver. He’s not the intern, but he might as well be. He brings everyone coffee. He’s the first to volunteer to take on some task that needs staffing, even grunt work like unpacking a truck for a stunt. He’s the one who always replies-all on email chains to say “Congrats!” or “Great job!” when a colleague sends out an announcement or event recap. He’s almost always cheerful, except for the one day when he’s not, and then he’s the meanest, most withdrawn member of the team.
3. The ex-journalist. This guy has the “Cool Hand Luke” vibe of someone who could single-handedly beat you at ping pong and write a 1,200 word op-ed at the same time, all while eating a ham sandwich. He never tucks his shirt in. He probably never makes his bed. Yet he’s wicked smart and knows the context and genesis of just about any story the organization has ever worked on. He refers to the executives by their nicknames and loves lingering water cooler talk, where he can share his battleground tales of what life was like as a journalist.
4. The veteran. This gal knows her stuff. She’s been around the block and has been eating and breathing PR since before you were breathing. She knows the middle names of every New York Times editorial board member dating back to the Carter administration, can run circles around you when it comes to protocol, and has more funny stories about PR mishaps and victories than you could ever wish to have. Even so, she’s a bit slow on the uptake around the new digital landscape and social media. She will never understand “I Can Has Cheezburger”?
5. The tone-deaf fortune teller. This guy just doesn’t get it. He comes up with strategies that make everyone cringe. His ideas are tone deaf and threaten to cause more harm than good. He’s been working in PR for several years, which may come as a surprise to many, but when you look at his LinkedIn, it’s clear he switches jobs every 10 months or so. He doesn’t last very long anywhere. He should probably consider another line of work, but for some reason thinks he’s great and continues to forge forward at the peril of those around him.
6. The digital devotee. This guy (or gal) is ubiquitous. He’s usually the one managing the social media or the email marketing, or similar. He’s a millennial or on the cusp of Generation Y and never grew up. He’s likely to have gadgets and toys in his work area. He’s the first to know when something will become a trend and when the next great digital app or tool will become available. He’s full of creative ideas that may or may not be realistic and could be honed for some great brainstorming sessions.
7. The metrics monster. This person is driven by numbers. Maybe she was a former accountant-turned-PR person or just worked for a long time at a company that emphasized numbers over all else. She’s programmed by the metrics. She can report out industry metrics on any given channel or topic like Rain Man can count a pile of paperclips on the floor. She’s constantly striving to achieve the best algorithm for her work. Her big downfall is that she’s rigid and doesn’t like to deviate from proven success to experiment with potentially creative out-of-the-box ventures.
8. The powerhouse. This is the person who always has her sleeves rolled up and a bead of sweat on her forehead. She’s worked a 60-hour work week and it’s only Wednesday morning. She gets it done. There’s no b.s. with this person. She never slacks, never caves and never says no to something. She produces an enormous amount of work and does it well. She is highly adaptable and can learn a new industry or topic quickly and with ease. She’s respected by her colleagues.
Any personality types to add? Say so in the comments below.
Allison Steinberg is a communications strategist and leader.