If you’re a fan of Absolutely Fabulous or W1A (to cite two examples) both of which portray PR in different ways – but mainly as a vacuous hive of excess, falsehoods and stupidity – then you’ve already stumbled across a small dose of the negative press that the industry tends to receive…
Coming into PR seven years ago as a journalism graduate, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect; with the extent of my encounters with the sector having stemmed from the aforementioned Ab Fab (which I LOVE), and the odd run in with press officers during my time as a student.
I still recall my first day working in a PR agency. Taking a seat at my desk for what started out as a work placement (but which ended up being my first full-time role) the MD approached me to introduce himself…
HIM: “So, what’s brought you to us then?”
ME: “Well, I trained as a journalist. I’ve just come from three months at a national magazine, and a friend of mine put me in touch with [DIRECTOR] for a work placement, so here I am.”
HIM: “Oh right. So, what do you want to do – journalism or PR?”
ME: “I guess I’ll find out!”
Translation: “I haven’t a bloody clue.”
Working behind the scenes with other PR professionals brings you face-to-face with the reality that a large chunk of the news we encounter every day in print and online – from seemingly innocuous surveys, to large scale public stunts and online brand engagement – has been (for the most part) carefully crafted by a PR agency or press office on behalf of someone/something.
It’s a great industry to work in not just for those with a creative bent, but for anyone with an interest in how we communicate with one another – particularly as digital continues its rapid growth and we must find ever more inventive ways of doing our jobs.
Despite this, it’s well documented that PR is one of the most stressful sectors to work in which can no doubt be attributed to…
- The fast-paced environment and reactive nature of the job.
- The ‘always-on’ nature of the job (see point 1) – especially with technology developing at the rate that it is.
- Budgets. Budgets – or lack thereof
There are also moments of humour to be found in agency life which is what I’ll cover here. From the agonising pitch process, to last-minute low-budget client briefs, and taking part in conversations you never imagined yourself having (just how many packets of cigarette filters does it take to make an evening dress?).
It’s a veritable gold mind of material – and I’ll be sharing it with you.