I’m an introvert. There, I’ve said it. And I’m not ashamed of it either.
You see, it’s not a frequent confession for people that work in our industry. PR is a strange world where you can feel like everyone around you is an alpha-extrovert and is never happier than when they’re socialising with 300 “close” friends, going to 20 launch parties a week and having a constant Whatsapp conversation going with at least 40 different groups of people. All at the same time.
The truth is, because extroverts shout louder, it can be easy to think that PR as an industry is anti-introvert. Well, let me offer you some reassurance if you’re the “one-conversation-at-a-time” kind of person that I suspect you might be. You’re not alone.
Firstly, let me clear up a common misconception – introvert and misanthrope are not the same. The former is someone who feels refreshed by the company of a few select friends. The latter is someone who has no friends and likes to spend their time in a darkened room. But enough about coders …*jokes*
There are five major reasons why, if you’re an introvert like me, you’ll love a career in PR. That’s not to say extroverts won’t also enjoy it, but us introverts need to swing the pendulum a bit further in our favour, so here goes.
1. Clients will love you. “What’s that you say? You’ve found an account manager who will actually give me the time of day, listen attentively when I’m speaking and not just want to organise a launch ‘party’ with a few z-list celebs?” said client x. Yes, you’ve guessed it, clients love introverts. Provided you’re able to manage the expectations of workload and keep those contact hours in check, clients will love you because you’ll give them the feeling that they’re getting your undivided attention.
2. You’ll be the voice of reason. Whilst our extroverted compatriots can be excellent at geeing up the atmosphere, raising the tempo before a major campaign goes live and getting us all fired up (as vital as that is), introverts can provide the measured approach in between these peaks of activity to ensure agencies stay grounded and we offer the quiet reassurance that our clients so desperately need.
3. You’ll never be short of friends. Provided you’re not a misanthrope, you’ll find the PR industry offers you the chance to make good friends who will value your company. Why, you might ask? Because introverts are choosy about whom they offer their friendship to, so anyone making your list knows they’ve undergone intense scrutiny and passed muster. High praise indeed.
4. Your boss will love you. OK, so this point is probably the weakest of the five. Let’s face it, there can be shocking extrovert PROs and equally awful introvert PROs. However, let me put my neck on the line and say that bosses will love a calm voice of reason in the midst of the craziness that can typify daily life in an agency. If you’re level-headed, reasoned and calm you’ll go a long way. Not solely the preserve of the introvert, I’m sure you’ll agree, but behaviour that more closely aligns to our personality type I’d argue.
5. You’ll not be seen as a threat. This point makes PR out to sound like more of a cutthroat world than it actually is, but let’s be honest, rivalries do happen occasionally. The introvert, however, has the bonus of being able to fly under the radar most of the time. You can work away merrily in the background, impressing clients and your line managers and because you’re doing it quietly, you’ll escape the attention of the more combative members of your agency. Then, when review day is over and you’ve made ‘global head of PR’ before your 25th birthday, your competitive colleagues will be crying into their Itsu noodles as they tear one another to shreds over why person x “Never deserved to be a senior account manager’.
So, I may have fallen foul of a little stereotyping and exaggeration along the way, but hopefully this has given you a bit of reassurance if you’re an introvert like me, PR will prove to be fruitful ground indeed.
This week's opinion was written by Jon Priestley, head of PR agency Wolfstar London