Shattered notions: PR is not about liking people


During spring semester of my sophomore year, I took my first college public relations (PR) class. On the first day, my professor shared a piece of advice that I would carry with me throughout my time as an undergrad: “Don’t go to work in public relations because you like people. That may be true, but you’ll see that it’s much more than that.”

Full disclosure: my first taste of PR came while watching the MTV show The Hills. There was something so enticing about viewing the lives of girls who lived in upscale Hollywood apartments, landed dream-jobs at Teen Vogue, traveled all over the world and were in contact with more celebrities than a regular 20-something girl could ever dream of. I wanted to be the next LC, Lauren Conrad, the main character. But that’s just it. It was all fake. Now I know. PR is not all glamour and glitz but it’s still intriguing.

Here is my REAL girl take along with a few REAL experiences…

Who said PR is a one-size fits all career?

I thought PR was for celebrities, and celebrities only. The job of PR, I thought, was to cover up rumors and personal details that had been published for the world to see. But what I found to be interesting, is that PR is a practice that all kinds of businesses use. Whether it’s real estate and development, health care, retail chains, universities, not-for profits, sports and everything financial—PR can help contribute to communication needs by adding value to the bottom line. What do you think happens when a customer is complaining publicly on social media? It is often a PR pro who manages the issue.

This isn’t a 9-5 job

And it is very fast-paced. You might have a perfect ‘to-do’ list in the morning, only to have it completely changed within 10 minutes! This is a nightmare for people who enjoy routine. You could be gathering your things, ready to go home for the day, when you get a call from a frantic client who just got word that their business is being highlighted in a news story that they’re not happy about. The point is, just like the world doesn’t stop, PR doesn’t stop. It takes time and attention to detail to pull off the skills needed to properly serve a client. Our minds never turn off thinking of ways to do what we do!

Bottom line– PR is many things

Whether creating or improving a logo, finding exactly the right journalist to pitch a story idea to, writing message points or creating an inspiring speech, PR is not easily defined. It is multi-dimensional and, with a client’s trust, the options are limitless. Our firm is working with a nationally known healthcare brand to engage in a new cultural movement. I never read that in a text book! And goodness knows how many social media posts are written, researched and refined to fit into 140 characters—for all clients, across many sectors!

It is exciting to me because my journey is just beginning! I have so much more to learn—but then again, do we ever stop learning?


By: Crislyn Petzoldt