Why does a career in PR interest me?
Four years ago, once I finished school, I took a year out away from studies as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and what career path I wanted to follow. Heading off away from my work and responsibilities, I lived in Australia for a year and during that time I visited family friends, from back home that moved out a long time ago whenever I possibly could. Which therefore goes on to lead me into when and why I first thought about PR as a future career for myself.
I was first introduced to PR by a family friend in Australia, who I and everyone knew as the ‘globe-trotter’. He was constantly travelling with his job working for a PR firm but as he said, at his own leisure (if he didn’t want to he didn’t ever have to, although I understand that this may not sit well with all jobs and PR companies). The excitement of having a fluid job seemed to pique my interest, so being intrigued I started to ask more questions about what exactly he did for a living and with that, he couldn’t answer me with a set-in stone answer as his job was always continually ‘evolving’. He stated the fact that I was a good outgoing person with great communication skills, this would sit very well with people wanting to go into the PR industry for a career. I was never particularly interested in a job that was completely enclosed in a somewhat ‘box’ which would have a repeated, recurrent routine also suited my personality. Having all these thoughts in mind, one particular word that he told me stood out from the rest: ‘Stunts’. Horton (2008) says that, ‘Public relations stunts are an effective form of message delivery when integrated with concepts being communicated’. I began to think of PR stunts and how interesting they were as a form of creative communication and began to think ‘I could think of some great innovative PR stunts myself’. Having this new-found perspective on PR, this was my first overall impression of the industry itself as a whole.
‘Public relations is closely associated with whatever is newest, freshest and most fashionable – and often with what is most successful (and indeed is, disproportionately, a young person’s industry)’ (Morris & Goldsworthy, 2015). With this little seed that my family friend planted in my head, I then started to look at different PR stunts and how they went about being created, what ideas were good and innovative (even mad) by looking at the likes of Red-Bull, who creatively took ‘Red-Bull gives you wings’ maybe even too literally by having a man jump out of a spaceship and plummet to earth, these great stunts began my interest in looking up degrees surrounding PR and Communication.
Goldsworthy & Morris (2015) state that although PR work might be portrayed as artificial, it is rarely viewed as dull and it likes to be seen as ‘a creative industry’. The creative side to PR is very appealing to me. The artistic approaches which can be applied to a career in PR would constantly leave me fascinated and with this always thinking and creating new ideas. In popular culture especially, PR’s role can often be thinking up of ideas for certain events, parties and festivities (which might also lead to attending them). The communication side of this and constantly meeting new people for all various reasons, in my view this has no comparison to a certified office work routine, no matter how small the reality of it may be.
On the subject about a daily office routine, people in PR, like my said family friend, can work almost anywhere, even with a permanent post in a particular business, this doesn’t seclude the fact that in this industry you might and most likely will not be working a 9-5 job every week. Society pressures of having a specific routine do not sit well with me and a repetitive almost mechanical nature in a job wouldn’t suffice. A career in the PR industry could almost guarantee little to none boredom. How the economy of today’s world is working, this further reiterates my point of wanting a job in the PR sector.
Gordon (2011) mentions different types of PR sectors, that you can choose to branch out in, depending on what interests you. ‘PR seems to offer would-be practitioners the chance to decide what interests them, do the PR for it and get paid into the bargain’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This would interest me as I could reach out and dip into areas of PR that would suit my liking, such as fashion, music, nature and even sports. As the variety of PR is so vast and complex, this would give me multiple opportunities to experience different sides to PR and the large variety of work would leave me to choose areas that I also wouldn’t be particularly fond of therefore stay away from and areas that I would like to stick at and delve into more that would suit my particular needs and interests.
PR consultancies are having to distinguish themselves and seek out a competitive advantage as they are ‘selling an intangible service and ultimately the difference is about personalities, but this is notoriously hard to articulate convincingly’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2015). This therefore means that PR practices need to keep up to date and in trend with social media and society outside of this. Keeping on top of new technologies and rapidly responding to new social trends interest me as I like to keep ‘on trend’ myself, whether it be with my peers on online, so as this is an integrated aspect of PR this would interest me and my tastes of the work surrounding this.
Like any career, you cannot go into a job knowing everything. ‘There are few if any scientific laws in PR’ (Smith, 2013). Learning from experience is always key, but this is even more validated within the PR industry. Creative working and thinking is wisdom and collective learning is very interesting and a career in this industry is so unsolidified and not set in stone that embracing your imaginative side interests me.
PR’s role can be tough, ‘pitching stories to sceptical journalists or bloggers, or taking that difficult call when the media have uncovered a damaging story’ (Theaker, 2012). Preparation must be done in advance for these types of situations, which can be make or break for some businesses depending on how big stories or certain situations are. Some people may find the responsibility of this too much, or not wanting the stress that may come along with some ambiguous, unplanned situations, although organisations value these type of PR people, that can stay cool, calm and collected in these types of situations. As I have a very calm nature, I like to work under pressure without it being to over bearing for me and I would like to be given the opportunities to experience these types of pressures. Overcoming these aspects of the job, particularly with myself, a strong sense of job satisfaction would come out of these types of situations for me if they are dealt with properly and respectfully. As being helpful in these situations this could make you a valued representative in an organisation which certain businesses would want and would definitely have perks.
When naming some large international PR consultancies, I couldn’t think of any at all. ‘Most people have difficulty identifying PR campaigns, and, when they try, frequently confuse them with advertising and other forms of marketing’ (Goldsworthy & Morris, 2008). This interests me are PR as a whole is quite unknown. With certain names, fact and PR concepts, PR is kept at a rather large scale as a blank canvas. The mysteriousness of PR and that surrounding it keeps an interest towards it and I find that extremely interesting.
Public relations is and continues to be a heavily influenced aspect of my personality and I implement some aspects of it into my everyday life, influencing brands I buy such as what I wear, what I eat, and I watch on television.
The fluidity and creativeness aspects of the career, such as stunts really peak my interest in the PR industry as a whole. Interestingly in today’s society PR’s work is still relatively unknown to people outside of the industry and people actually working in a PR career, this ‘secretive’ aspect for me creates a magnetic pull ever more so towards a career in PR as the unknown is exciting and somewhat stimulating.
Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/