Public relations is a notoriously stressful career. CNBC ranked PR as the #2 most stressful job of 2011, just behind airline pilots. I beg to differ. Lives are not in our hands, after all.
Of course, PR can be stressful. We are at the mercy of forces outside of our control, for the most part. The right pitch has to edge up against the right timing and the right reporter for any great placement to happen.
It takes a certain kind of personality to thrive in PR. Read any PR job listing and you’ll see requirements such as: detailed oriented, excellent writing skills, multi-tasker, organized, energetic, blah blah blah. Yes, PR people must embody these traits, but excelling at PR requires a number of intangibles. It’s the gut feeling we’re looking for when we interview candidates that cannot be quantified in a job posting.
I owe credit to Jason Keath (@jasonkeath) at Social Fresh who inspired this post when he penned the 54 Warning Signs That You Work In Social Media. It’s a hilarious read and all true. Aside from Jason’s list, I have some to add into the mix for those of us who work in social media and PR that will give you a better sense for those intangibles that I mentioned above:
- The five scariest words you fear all day are, “Why aren’t we in this?” (from the hilarious @lmokaba)
- In grade school, your teachers noted that you were a “social butterfly” on your report cards (not in a good way).
- You’ve disabled all of your notifications on your mobile devices and your computer. You don’t need them. You know you have at least 50 emails, five DMs, and 10 texts.
- When you see a great story in the press, your first thought is, “Who placed that story?”
- You scrutinize every single word you write. Yes, there is a difference between “over” and “more than!” (Just ask Steve).
- You’d never buy a gift for a reporter, but you would retweet him or her to show that you are paying attention.
- You’re surprised to hear that people still use desktops.
- When the iPhone first came out you sacrificed function for image (yes, you had to figure out a new way to manage your tasks since they no longer synced like they did on your BlackBerry, but it was worth it).
- You know what a “muscular verb” is.
- A “day off” = only checking email every 15 minutes while you are physically out of the office.
- In your personal life, when people try to help you stuff invitations, assemble gift bags, etc., you take over the project because it will be done more quickly.
- Over drinks, when a friend tells you an amazing story about how she saved a lost dog or saw an ostrich along the side of the highway, you say, “I could get that on TV.”
- Your grandmother wants to know when your article will be published in The New York Times. You just tell her, “soon.”
- Your friends ask you to compose their apology letters.
- You can identify people at meetings, tradeshows and on the street based solely on their Twitter avatar photos (HT @lmokaba).
- People assume that you attend parties and meet celebrities for a living (and you let them because it’s better than the reality of being chained to your phone and laptop).
- You could easily hold the record for the most lists on Twitter, but there’s no formal way to measure that yet.
- You still have Google alerts set up for past clients just to see what type of coverage they are getting (HT @lmokaba)
- You might use terms such as “boiler plate” and “hashtag” during happy hour conversation.
- Caffeine and alcohol, in that order.
- You have a running list of jargon that you ban from all writing. And you judge others who use those terms. If you need a starting place, check out Sam’s list of the words to retire in 2012.
- You are perfectly capable of writing a press release while tweeting, updating Facebook and watching Mad Men at the same time.
- You justify new clothing and accessories by telling yourself and others that you are “in the image business.”
- You believe that all customer service reps will give you what you want if you approach the conversation the proper way. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Twitter (Meg could give you some good advice).
- You use Google+ because it increases the SEO for your content and all of the reporters you work with are on there, not because you like it (at least not yet).
- If you cannot find a piece of information, it’s not findable.
- You take pride in finding typos in the novels you read (and contemplate notifying the publisher).
- You know and use proofreader’s marks.
- You have entire conversations with your colleagues using buzzwords just to crack each other up (another great one from @lmokaba)
- You sleep with your iPhone.
- Your answer to most questions that begin with, “Do you think it’s possible to…” is yes.
- You write headlines in 140 characters (actually, 120 is ideal to leave room for retweets).
- “Speechless” is a foreign word.
We’ll be tweeting these signs using the #SignsYouWorkInPR hashtag, and encourage you to add your own on Twitter or in the comments below. You can follow me on Twitter @bamonaghan.