When you think of PR what do you think of? Hugh Jackman’s larger-than-life portrayal of legendary (and unethical) spin doctor P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman? Samantha’s glamorous life of non-stop parties and crazy stunts on Sex and the City? Olivia Pope on Scandal? Or Toby and Sam on The West Wing? So much of what the media depicts about PR comes from old stereotypes that don’t reflect the industry today.
Marketing suffers many similar misrepresentations. New Girl portrays Schmidt’s job in a marketing agency as a toxic, female-only agency with lots of parties and extravagant clients. All of the glamorous parties and designer clothes enjoyed by Lily Collins’ character on Emily in Paris paint an intoxicating picture of marketing as a borderline celebrity endeavor.
The reality is a little different. Today, we’re going to share what a career in marketing and PR actually looks like. (Hint: we tend to wear sneakers because we’re always on the go). Here’s what you’ll need to succeed.
Strong writing skills.
You should enjoy writing if you are considering a job in PR and marketing – because there’s no avoiding it. A large part of the work involves content creation, which could be anything from blogs and social media posts to strategy presentations and email newsletters. In order to succeed in communications, you need to be able to draft content that appeals to the audience and works towards the client’s business goals.
The style of writing will vary depending on the client and the nature of the agency that you work for; finding the tone and perfecting the voice for your client is an essential skill. All external-facing content has to match the voice of the company–otherwise, the brand’s credibility will suffer. Customers can tell if the voice used isn’t authentic or doesn’t fit the brand they’ve come to know. Whether you’re imitating an established brand voice or are creating a new one for a new brand, communications professionals have to have a good ear for a client’s brand personality.
This is arguably the most obvious component of working in PR and marketing and can include anything from creating eye-catching advertisements to writing a headline that pulls customers in. Being creative is an indispensable skill for communications professionals.
Clients want their organization to stand out from the competition – and it’s our job to support that mission however we can. It can be a lot of fun, that’s undeniable, but every communications professional will also have war stories about hitting a creative block exactly when it’s the least convenient. It happens to everyone, and learning early in your career how to push through will save you a lot of frustration.
Being flexible is crucial when working in PR and marketing. A client may require last-minute changes to a document an hour before it is set to go to print or you will receive a comment on social media at five o’clock on a Friday that requires an immediate response.
Going with the flow is something that marketing professionals become experts at because they have to do it all the time. No matter how prepared you are or how many rounds of revisions you do, a last-minute review can turn into a creative about-face, a news headline will derail the direction you thought you were going in, or an unexpected turn of events will force you to change your entire strategy. Being able to accept the situation, shift gears, and move on with a minimum of drama is hugely important.
Superb time management.
Working in PR and marketing usually requires you to be juggling multiple projects at once. Exceptional time management skills are a must if you’re going to successfully adjust to shifting priorities, revised schedules, and new plans–all at the drop of a hat.
In agencies, time management is especially important because we work with clients on a project or retainer basis. Knowing how much time tasks will take and planning for them accordingly within a specific campaign is a crucial skill for PR and marketing pros.
To survive in PR and marketing, you need to develop a pretty thick skin. It’s natural to be proud of your work and even to become attached to campaign materials and designs that you’ve spent months working on, so when that work gets shot down it can feel personal. Seasoned professionals learn to accept the criticisms and move on.
If you’re working on social media campaigns and customer-facing campaigns, there is always a chance that you’ll receive negative comments or reviews. Responding well to such comments is an art in itself (and one which we talked about in our previous blog post). As marketing and PR professionals, we need to learn not to take things personally. That’s much easier said than done, and a lot of hard work goes into learning how to listen to others and respond (or not) tactfully.
PR and marketing offer some of the greatest career highs available anywhere: working with the media, helping clients become stars, giving your imagination free rein and flexing your creative and strategic muscles every single day….What could be more rewarding? At The Agency, we love what we do–even the challenges are interesting because overcoming them often demands a creative approach that we’d never considered before. Every day brings new opportunities to grow and improve, and to help our clients succeed.
Interested in working in PR & Marketing? Check out our open positions here!