When I was still deciding what to study (leaning heavily towards graphic design at that stage), a friend suggested I phone a friend of theirs who had experience in the PR field. Never having heard of PR (public relations) but curious enough, I phoned, and a long story short am now writing this blog post at the other side of 10 years in the industry.
After 10 years, there is one thing that I still wish that friend of a friend told me (not that it would've made any difference in my choice or career satisfaction). The greatest skill and PR professional can have/learn/build is balance.
Balancing a client's wishes, objectives and preferences with those of the media is something that can not be taught by even the finest schools. Doing it all at a frantic pace with a journalist chasing a deadline just 10 minutes away, the client about to board a plane for a three hour flight, your cellphone battery bleeping for dear life, and simultaneously thinking of three backup plans at the same time isn't stressful, it's natural ... if you're in PR.
Some days in PR are rewarded by having checked all the boxes (loads of quality publicity generated, happy clients, grateful and trusting journalists) and some days you have to let go with a hopeful "maybe next time".
Some days it is as if you know your clients' diaries and movements better than their PAs and spouses, and some days you just keep on missing out on the crucial three minutes a journalist wanted for an all-important interview that would've included your clients' name in the biggest story of the year.
Some days you feel like you've really cracked this hardball industry by knowing and working your stuff, and some days you just end up at home on the couch with a bag of chips and a box of chocolates.
All to get back to the office the next day (for those PR pros who can wait that long to check e-mails) and try once again to achieve the fine balance necessary to succeed in this ever-changing industry.
I worry sometimes that clients will think that I'm only pushing publicity for the sake of submitting a brilliant report at the end of the month, or whether journalists will think that they're talking to the "PR poppie" who doesn't want to help. I worry that by using common sense (leaning in favour of either the client or the newsroom) that I'm damaging the trust relationships we work so hard to build and nurture, or confirming the negative perception of the PR industry held by many.
In the end it all boils down to doing your best each and every single second of each and every single day to achieve a balance that will build towards a greater good for your client, your media network, and the public who are at the receiving end of the stories told by both brand and traditional journalists alike.