One of the many ProfNet requests that dive into my inbox daily really jumped out at me today. It was a request for the most important lessons learned in your PR career, and it got me thinking. I’ve been doing this for 15 years or so and in that time I’ve learned five key lessons that help me perform better at my job and, at life:
1. You need to LOVE the media in all shapes and forms and understand the vital role it plays in the cultural dialogue. If you don’t you cannot understand how to work with media conceptually and with journalists on a daily basis.
I truly believe in the importance of the media in keeping our system open, clean and functioning. I don’t romanticize the media, I know it’s a component of corporations, but its role in educating us, inspiring us and binding us together is one of the reasons the First Amendment to the Constitution calls for a free press.
2. NEVER, EVER lie to a reporter. No matter what. You will be found out and you will personally lose credibility and hurt your client deeply.
If you can’t be honest, let the reporter know that you cannot answer the question. They will understand and respect that. Do not lie.
3. Be an honest broker. Don’t promise a client something that is not achievable and don’t offer reporters access to someone, something or data that you cannot deliver. Our job is not to just say yes, rather, it is to understand what is needed by both our clients and those who we are trying to influence. Be honest. Period.
4. Have fun. While PR is a job, bringing joy of life into your job will make you way more effective. If you just see what we do as a slog to pay the bills, you will not be doing anyone any favors. If you’re smiling and liking what you do, you’ll be more effective.
While many of us represent public companies (and private ones) and they are depending on us to help achieve a fairer stock valuation, sell a product or service,or just plain build their eminence, for the most part, what we do for a living is not rocket science. Enjoy your job. You rarely get paid to learn daily. Love that part of the job.
5. Find a balance between work and life. The only way you can have the joy I mentioned above is to be able to find things outside of work that you love to do (family, friends, pets, hobbies, etc.) Really love your life and your work will reflect this. I take a tremendous amount of pleasure in being a dad, focusing on healthy food and organic gardening and exercising. I bring this joy to the office and I hope it is reflected in my work and the way I interact with my colleagues and my clients.
That’s pretty much it. I’m headed off to Tyler Place to enjoy life a little and get a much needed vacation.