PR Expectations vs Reality
Lauren Atkins, Account Executive
Long lunches, meeting celebs, and red-carpet events are a few of the clichés that come to mind when you think about PR. The ‘ab fab’ crowd with a glass of champagne in one hand and the perfect shade of lippy in the other are all visions that I am sure people have when I answer the ‘so what do you do?’ question.
After eight months in PR, I’ve been thinking. How closely did my expectations of working in PR match my present-day reality? Was I expecting any of the clichés that are so closely associated with the PR industry?
Before we go any further, I have a confession. At uni, I didn’t enjoy my PR papers. It was all theory, essays and quite frankly it didn’t give me a good taste for what PR really was. This is the reason why, despite majoring in PR, I sought a marketing & sales role out of university. How did I end up at Pead? I guess my expectations of PR changed. But what were they?
Reality: I didn’t know what busy meant
I remember our Group Account Director telling me in my interview that working at Pead was busy. That there was always a ton of projects and client work to get done and I would be juggling multiple deadlines.
Having spent a year and a half in a marketing and sales role, I was confident that I was used to a fast-paced environment. That I was pretty good at managing my time and that ‘busy’ wouldn’t be too different from the role I was in.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Client service is an entirely different beast. Deadlines coincide with each other all the time and there really is nothing you can do, but make it work.
It is stressful, it is exciting, and pulling something off that almost seemed impossible is a great feeling. I finish every day with a sense of accomplishment and I genuinely love the reward that comes with the pressure of having so much to do.
Looking back to my days at uni, we would stress over how many assignments we had and how little time we had to do them. In reality, we had weeks to prepare. I usually got started in advance, however I still felt a certain level of stress. Hitting the real working world was an entirely different story with higher volumes of work and even shorter time frames.
Expectation: My colleagues would be intimidating
Reality: I am supported and inspired every day
Starting a new job is scary. But I remember being extra nervous ahead of day one; my mind spinning with misguided visions that my colleagues would resemble the villain from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. Thankfully my anxiety was for nothing.
From day one, I felt welcomed and supported by my colleagues. Instead of competitiveness and toxicity, as could be the case in a female-dominated workplace, there really is a culture of support. It doesn’t matter if you are an intern or the boss – I really do feel as though we are all there to help each other to be our best.
I am astounded when I realise just how much I have learnt in the last eight months. I work with intelligent and creative professionals and they are all so willing to share their knowledge. By taking the time to give me feedback on my work, they are helping me to grow much more quickly than I might have in other roles.
Reality: Fun…but hard work
I knew PR would be an enjoyable and rewarding job. I knew it wasn’t all champagne and long lunches. I didn’t know how much hard work goes into every aspect of PR.
The hours spent perfecting a message. The research that goes into every campaign. The effort that goes into developing a targeted strategy that meets client objectives. What people see (the events or the ‘grammable’ product send outs) are always just the tip of the iceberg. Behind it, is a team of intelligent professionals who have carefully considered every aspect. Who have questioned whether it will resonate with the target audience, whether there are any risks, and how it fits into the wider goals of the client.
There’s no debate that PR is a fun career. But it’s not as easy as it might look. There is a lot of careful thinking and planning involved and all the hard work only makes it more rewarding.
Expectation: I’d like my job
Reality: I love my job
I came out of my interview for this role with very high hopes. I was pretty sure I was going to like it after hearing all about the role, the clients and life as a Peadie. This job has surpassed my expectations. It might sound like I am trying to earn points with the boss here (Sarah – I hope you are reading this) but I genuinely wake up every day looking forward to going to work.
My friends don’t understand it. But from my perspective, it doesn’t make sense to spend such a big percentage of your week at a job that doesn’t excite you.
I never find myself watching the clock. In fact, the day usually goes too quickly. I often get to 4pm and find myself wishing I could rewind a few hours to give me a little extra time to get everything done.
Taking the step into PR is one that I do not regret. The fun, the hard work, the intensity of working across multiple clients at the same time is exhilarating. I feel I’ve found my place; a place that keeps me excited, passionate and inspired. I’m among a team of intelligent, creative and down to earth individuals who produce excellent work and I get to be a part of that. Just as well I took a leap from the marketing and sales world into the crazy but brilliant world that is PR!