What drives young PR professionals at work?

Last week, millennial Mark Zuckerberg announced that he will be taking two months off as paternity leave in anticipation of the birth of his daughter. When was the last time one heard of the head of a global giant or even an average sized company taking paternity leave?

Welcome to the millennial generation, often seen as being over connected and restless. But is this charge really true?

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Lori Goler, head of HR at Facebook, said, “ Learning is really important to this (millennial) generation. It's often misinterpreted as getting bored quickly, wanting to move on. It isn't -- it's just wanting to learn more.”

For the second ‘Soapbox for PR millennials’ feature, we attempt to answer the question what drives PR millennials at work. The answers may surprise you.

The millennial PR gang is restless but hungry to learn, hyper connected but also serious about making space for their personal interests, highly informal for also open to sharing their thoughts honestly. Managing a millennial team means having the ability to be flexible, giving massive opportunities to learn and leading with a light touch.

Nalam once did a stint as a dancing bear and feels it all adds to his success at work!

Happy camper equals quality work  

Adarsh Nalam, senior account manager and client lead - PR and Content Marketing, for Zeno Group India, says what keeps him happy is, “The quality of work, hands down. it’s the opportunity to build something different and trade on the sheer weight of results.  I’ve had the good fortune of working in a diverse set of jobs – from language training and marketing for the performing arts to writing and content strategy. The chance to employ all those randomly gained skills in the process of straddling content, digital, PR and marketing as one single ecosystem is a fantastic experience.”

Political PR is what interests’ PR newbie, Anwesha Brahma who avidly followed the recent Bihar elections

Millennials in the PR business also maintain other interests and unlike the baby boomer generation are not focused just on work. Anwesha Brahma, associate consultant PR at ‘Blue Pigeon Image Management’ is one of the founders of blog ‘dustbin dubba’,  that carries opinion about current news. This platform allows her to give shape to a deep interest in politics.

Says Brahma, “I have always been intrigued with the field of political PR but it may be my understanding that the opportunities (PR agencies) for this particular field are quite limited. I always felt good following elections and political leaders. In fact, the field of politics itself attracts me a lot.”

Leadership matters

Chauhan shares, “A mentor and a confidant at work is of utmost important. Like any other industry, there are good days and there are bad days, but striking a balance between the two combined with right guidance and support is the key to survival.”

Abhishek Chauhan is not only a post graduate in journalism from the ‘Indian Institute of Mass Communication’, but also has a masters in sociology from the prestigious ‘Delhi School of Economics’.  Currently, senior account executive in the Zeno India consumer practice says that while money is important, what matters more is the quality of people at work-particularly leadership.

The millennial generation expects leadership that is authentic and informal.

Building your own future

The drive to shape your own career is also a major hallmark of young PR professionals today. Mumbai based Neha Badlani, set up PR firm ‘Silver Lining Image Consultants’ in 2013 and aims to take her company national.  Bitten by the entrepreneurship bug, Badlani doesn’t see herself going back to a regular job.

Neha Badlani feels that, “The ownership that comes with starting your own venture is not something one experiences in a job environment.”

The reason, for her, is clear cut, “Climbing the corporate ladder is a slow process; all the hoops you have to jump through to get a promotion can be rather demotivating. Here you can give yourself a raise depending on how hard you work. I don’t see myself going back to the corporate cubicle any time in the future.”

If ownership at work matters so does variety and mobility.

At 27, Nidhi Chimnani is director – Research and Insights, MSLGROUP and says what gets her out of bed every morning is, “Interesting projects, the excitement of working with motivated colleagues, the energy of creating something new and meaningful”

Nidhi Chimnani is a big fan of MSLGROUP’s mobility program which has enabled her to work for the group in Mumbai, Paris and Dubai where she is currently based.

What could you change about a PR job

Aahna Gandhi, formerly with Gutenberg communications, is a month away from getting married. But she still plans to continue with PR after marriage. Gandhi wishes the PR industry would, “The comparison amongst employees and replace it with trust.”

While Nalam has a platform to express his ideas, one thing about PR that irritates Adarsh Nalam is the dress code. He says, “I’d probably change the dress code from casual to ultra-casual, unless we’re expecting company or going to a client meeting.”

Adds Nalam, “Another thing I’d change, and someone needs a Nobel Prize to work out that solution for this industry, is the hours we can keep from time to time. The people and the work can more than make up for that, but it’s important to have time for yourself and for true recreation, especially if the industry’s clearly moving to a more creative-led headspace. So yes, the dress code and the hours. And, of course, a healthy disrespect for ‘traditional’ protocol dictated communication routes (aggressive media follow-ups anyone?).“

Gandhi says her next PR job would be a place Jobs which respects employees' ideas.

There you have it. The new PR gen, confident, focused and relaxed.

Before closing this story, I would like to share my own experience as a reporter with millennial PR professionals. It has taken a while to get used to quotes being send via Whats App and FB messenger and the highly informal interactive style of the new PR pro. At the same time, there is also greater openness and confidence in sharing views and opinions-a welcome change from the structured PR –journo interaction of  a decade ago.

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