Stop saying I’m an airhead because I work in PR
I am a productive member of society with a challenging job
You probably have a friend who works in PR. You probably have no idea what they actually do, but you know it involves lots of prosecco, parties and press releases.
I recently went to a house party where I was introduced to a girl studying architecture:
“And what do you do?”
“I work in PR!”
“Oh right.” Her eyes had glazed over.
Despite the fact that I am a productive member of society with a challenging job, I felt a blow as her prosecco-wielding PR girl stereotype stiletto-trampled on my pride. My brain whimpered that I too have a good degree and that I, like her, actually know stuff, but this didn’t seem like an appropriate response at the time.
My new acquaintance turned her back on what could have been a blossoming friendship because I must be an airhead if I work in PR. We are all the same, apparently – we studied something at some university for the sake of it and we’re pretty much in the job to earn some extra pocket money for gin and hijinks at the weekend, after Daddy’s paid the rent.
It seems to me, though, that everyone’s forgotten to look behind the social media smokescreen. Pretty much all of my friends in other jobs also go to client events and parties with cocktails in hand – PRs just publicise it more because, of course, publicity is what we do best.
So, as I move into my second year at leading London PR agency PHA Media, here’s a handful of truths about a career you probably dismissed.
This is a first choice career
We’re not all wannabe journalists, and many of us have studied PR.
Personally, I’d never thought of doing PR until my final year of uni – the careers advice leaflets only ever screamed BANKING, CONSULTANCY or LAW.
I came across it by chance at a careers fair, where the singular PR stand played host to a floppy-haired chap who bounded up to me asking me if I’d consider it. At this point I wasn’t even sure what PR stood for.
But the reason it got me exited then was the same reason I love it now – the variety, the challenge and the people. A triple threat which you’d be hard-pushed to find in many other careers.
It’s not just fashion, darling
I work in technology PR. I promote great, geeky things like dating app Happn, ‘Tinder for food’ app FoodMood and 3D printer brand XYZprinting. I need to know which plastic is best for 3D printing a statuette of your own head, right alongside how you can bag a hot date this summer.
It’s a hugely varied role and being a jack of all trades is not enough – we have to be masters of them.
I get to write, brainstorm and run creative campaigns. Other times I work with data, write surveys or carry out research. Every day I speak with journalists and learn more about my clients’ businesses.
It’s this diversity which means that my mum definitely doesn’t know what I do for a living, but that’s not a bad a trade-off.
We’re pretty bright
It’s a total myth that PRs have nothing between the eyes. In my company alone, we have LSE and Oxbridge grads, a woman who studied Neuroscience, people who’ve founded their own businesses and numerous ex-journalists from national papers.
And we all have something to say. I work alongside a bookworm, a pole-dancer, a ski-enthusiast, a Japan-ophile, a popular food blogger and some pretty avid hip-hop fans. Everyone is curious and opinionated and brilliantly ambitious.
We’re not all gorgeous women
We’re gorgeous men too! But really, the job attracts all kinds of people, different ages, backgrounds and interests. I work with plenty of men and certainly the least interesting thing about any of the people I’ve met here is the way they look.
And yes, there are parties
We all love a good bash, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities at PHA recently, like our 10 year anniversary in October and various awards ceremonies. There are client events too and parties we’ve organised for them.
But best of all, the fact we spend most Friday nights together is a testament to how great the relationships you can build in this job are. We go to dinners, birthdays, housewarmings and weddings together.
So I look forward to the next party I attend with my fellow PRs – and I’ll buy a prosecco for any architecture students that come my way.