Professional stereotypes are annoying, as outlined in my post about PR cliches that just won’t die. The tropes of the fast-talking, image-making press agent or the people-pleasing party girl are ones that most PR consultants reject, yet there are some common ways that PR agency and corporate communicators think. Occupational hazard? Or are certain personality types attracted to the biz?
Most of my peers in public relations have very little in common with PR people in TV and movies, but there are certain traits that differentiate someone who is hands-on in our business.
You can’t watch or read news like a normal person. You’re analyzing how well brand messages were delivered and figuring who might have helped place the story or segment.
You take mental notes and create sound bites when watching any interview. It’s all useful material for prepping clients or critiquing responses.
You analyze all angles of any public reputation meltdown. It’s about professional interest, but there may be a bit of schadenfreude thrown in. We can’t get enough of the latest PR crisis — at least those that aren’t happening to our own clients.
A friend asks advice and you outline a strategy and next steps in verbal bullet points. This, when maybe all she wanted was a restaurant suggestion.
You work best against a deadline. The more killing, the better.
You want to media-train casual acquaintances. And you sometimes have to hold back from suggesting that strangers use the inverted triangle to shape responses to questions.
You’re a constant consumer of media and content, from long-tail blogs to slideshares. And you’re obsessed with comparing different media takes on a breaking news event.
You edit everything. Then you edit your edits.
You’re always looking for trends. Trends = a story, and a story is still our focus, whether earned, owned, or paid.
You’re always looking for things that buck the trends. Let’s face it, the one-in-a-million shot beats even the most interesting trend story.
You have a visceral response when you spot a TV news van on the street even when it has nothing to do with anything.
You connect the dots from one meeting to the next, and all clients programs, even seemingly disparate ones, are relevant to one another! This is the hallmark of a career agency person.