Not long ago, I was talking to a family member about my day job.
“Really?” he said. “You don’t strike me as the PR type.”
“What’s the PR type?”
“You know, all Type A—intense, high-impact and cut-throat-y. Aren’t all PR people Type A?”
It then occurred to me that there have been a number of times at my new job that people in our division have made reference to “all of us Type A PR folks.” It was an uncomfortable assumption that struck me with a distinct closeted feeling. I found myself nodding my head and agreeing, “Yeah, we’re all so intense, aren’t we? Hurrah!” when I know damn well that Type B fits me and my approach to work like a memory-foam chair cupping my buttocks.
There’s definitely an image of the 24/7, intense “pro” who is working twelve massive crises at once with nary a drop of sweat on her brow. But first disclaimer: hospital PR is not the same as Big Agency PR. I don’t want to sell what we do short, though. While we don’t serve clients, hospital PR folks have been known to put out or manage rather formidable fires. Second disclaimer: even if I were at a Big Agency, my personality would be the same, which I don’t think would be a detriment.
What the Type B personality brings to PR, or work in general, is an emotionally even-handed approach to situations. In the midst of freaking out (and freaking out seems to happen a lot more than you’d think at hospitals), my instinct is not to “attack” as much as it is to listen and think through.
I’m not much for competition, but am driven to achieve the best outcomes for my hospital. It’s just better for my heart and mind that I don’t take a loss with devastation, any more than I celebrate a victory with huge amounts of emotion—on to the next project. I’ve found this helpful for navigating a number of battles with our State planning board and competitor hospitals, in which outcomes are highly unpredictable and the workload/time investment on the projects is quite high. I’ve seen good people get emotionally devastated by an outcome, and I don’t quite understand it.
I hope that more of my Type B brothers and sisters come forward in PR/marketing and let your calm, mellow voices be heard—but don’t shout over everyone else, just let the room quiet and then speak up. Let others know that we’re not lazy or disorganized—we just don’t like spending time creating order when it’s all right there in our minds. Challenge everyone’s assumptions of who we are—unless they start arguing with you, in which case, just let them go on and know that we’re going to live longer than them anyway probably.
This article first appeared on Ragan.com in March 2013.