PR lessons learnt from experience

After seeing a lot of earth-shattering, tiding through the lurking apocalypse, floods of ‘anti-corruption’ sentiments, going crazy over the ‘rise of human being into a god’ (Yeah, I have been reading a lot about the Melhuan dude!), I finally decided to get back to business. I decided to come back to the real ‘digital’ ocean, thanks to the ‘blogathon’ initiated for Texties (Text100 employees) in India.

With two eventful years under my PR belt, I thought the timing was just right  to spill some public relations "gyan".

As a PR consultant, you tend to hear a lot of “HOW” to do things. Therefore I wasn’t sure writing a blog, giving tips to my peers, seniors and the experienced lot on "how to execute a campaign”, “how to create media databases”, “how to write a ‘win-win’ press release”, “how to pitch a story to the media”, et al. No! How boring!

To cut the long story short, instead I decided to share my personal experiences that have moulded me from an amateur college-going kid to a smart professional who understands the “tricks” of the trade. While I have on purpose “refrained” from citing any particular experiences, I will try and share my understandings from it.

1.The realisation – “PR needs PR”

From day one of your job, the irony would be evident. The awesome intellectual debate – are we the sexy communications consultants, or should we persist with the plain Jane public relations executive tag. Then comes the immortal debate of defining the PR profession. Apart from industry peers, no-one will know what you are doing in your cubicle all day around. Believe me- Not even client, media or your own family!

Moral of the story: Most of the times, reaching a consensus with your peers and seniors on the definition of your own work could be a challenging ask.

2. In PR, just like life, there are NO rules

The most important learning that I have derived out of my varied interactions with industry experts, clients, peers, superiors is that, in PR, there are no rules! Yes, there is no single way in which you interact with people, no specific way to deal with snobbish media types and demanding clients. Slowly, I also realised that there was no particular way in which you “pitch” a story to the journalist.

Moral of the story: There are guidelines and precedents, but no specific rules! Key to flourish in PR is to try, learn, sometimes push our way, and sometimes backtrack from our natural course. Eventually, we all end up getting it right. And if we don’t? Then we try again, till we get it right!

3. Media knowledge is not everything

It’s a common belief harboured by newbies and beginners in the profession that having sound media intelligence is enough to survive the rainy season of PR. Getting coverage in the “coveted business publications” at the most may earn you the love of your client and envious glares by peers. But if you want to earn respect for yourself and want to be looked upon as an “asset to your organization, client as well as the media”, then it is necessary to treat them as your personal relationships. Dealing with people with care and nurturing them with respect is the trick!

Moral of the story: Relationships, be it with media, clients or internal within the organisations are made over a period of time. Therefore don’t worry if in case you are ever pressed by a question; “How good are you at communicating with media or client?”

4. You can’t control outcomes

In PR, there is nothing right or wrong. Sometimes, the media will want to get in touch with your client. Sometime, the client will want to touch base with the media directly, without keeping you in loop. There will be at least one such time, when you will be faced with such instances. So what do you do?

Chill! Do not fret!

It’s just a normal process of moving up the professional ladder. At times you might realise that even after planning and executing a great event, or achieving publicity for your clients in the premier media houses, or ensuring that the media gets the required information on time, people still turn out to be upset. Eventually, the lesson dawns upon you that one-off incidents like this will not really matter and definitely not impact your “presence” in the long run. In fact, there is a complete universe of clients and media and peers, who will recognise you for your patience, hard work and sincerity.

Moral of the story: The ultimate goal is to get the client the “deserving visibility, due credit for its performance and recognition of “delivering value” by core stakeholders, instead of worrying what if the media calls my client directly and leaves me redundant.

So as a PR consultant, you eventually come to realise that there are no two ways! You either love your job or you don’t! But people who navigate the early days of this struggle, blossom into brand custodians, who advise and act as consultants to their clients. They are the ones whom the media turns out to respect and admire. At times, such brand custodians leave a deep imprint on people’s hearts creating life-lasting friendships and passionate bonds.

Written by Deepika Gumaste of Text100 India. When I am not busy with PR, I travel, converse, nurture my entrepreneurial dreams, blog and seek.

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