Over the past two years, I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend every other week in a different city networking with folks in the public relations industry. On average I’ve had 25-30 meetings per month with various levels of Public relations pros from SVP’s and Managing Directors to AAEs and even interns.
The original goal was to brand my company and introduce the industry to some newer, more innovative satellite media tour executions. My goal gradually transformed into something that will benefit me for years to come: truly understanding and appreciating the exceptional demands of public relations professionals.
4 the Record:
As you know, PR Pros are some of the most unique, creative and interesting people in the world. Here are a few generalities I can make after spending two years of my life with you.
- Your schedules are like Jell-o! Chances are you’ll get called into a client meeting at a moment’s notice. Forget about scheduling a coffee or a lunch meeting a few weeks in advance. Your schedule changes minute to minute.I still remember planning my first networking trip after transitioning from the software world to the PR industry. I was so proud of myself for setting up a non-stop schedule from Tuesday through Thursday of that week. The problems started once I landed Tuesday morning and turned my phone back on (I was on the one flight that didn’t have Wi-Fi that day). Three of my five coffee meetings had canceled for the day! Managing my schedule around yours for the next two days was like twisting a rubix cube to get the squares aligned. This is NOT how the software world operated where people live and die by their “set in stone” schedules. PR pros just don’t have that luxury. I know this now and completely understand the challenge and embrace the chaos!
- You are CONSTANTLY getting promoted and/or moving companies, positions, or cities…because you’ve earned it!As a former professional baseball player who played on 9 different teams in 7 years, I truly have an appreciation for the fact that you can do this willingly to climb the ladder. Dealing with this level of stress is really an art. Especially when you’re charged with basically living out of a suitcase at times during the year while bouncing from client project to client project. Trust me, I know. It took me three years after I was done with professional baseball to finally start unfolding my clothes and hanging them in a closet. You PR pros are some of the hardest working, most dedicated and passionate people I’ve met outside of baseball.
- Getting and holding your attention is tough – but possible with caffeine or alcohol! I suppose this is all part of the “work hard, play hard” mentality, right? Caffeine to keep you up during the day. Alcohol to reward yourself at the end of a long productive day while celebrating all of the fires that you’ve put out OR stressing about how ON EARTH you’re going to meet the demands of your biggest client by week’s end. This didn’t hit me as a reality until my third month in public relations as I was building out a week of Chicago meetings. You are inundated with people reaching out on a daily basis. Most communications are from clients, superiors, or teammates – the people you can’t simply ignore or put off. The LAST thing you want to do is accept a networking/partnership meeting with a guy that you don’t know and have never met other than on a social/business network. Insert offer for caffeine or alcohol here…and my week is planned out in a day. It’s easier to network when you can recharge (caffeine) or relax (alcohol).
- Full-time is NOT 40 hours per week. I’ve received so many responses to my networking requests at 11PM Friday night or 7AM on a Saturday. During meetings with these people, I found out, after asking what they were doing up, that they were responding to a client request (that came in at 6:45AM on a Saturday) or up late Friday working on a presentation for Monday morning just tasked to them via email. Recently, I met with an Account Supervisor who had made a recent move to “part-time” after having a baby. She had a project that she wanted to collaborate on and needed some feedback. When I asked what her availability was for a follow up, she told me she was available 8AM-8PM every day, but would be unavailable on most Sundays unless it was urgent. No wonder you need caffeine and want alcohol!