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  • The Myth of the People Person

The Myth of the "People Person"

By: Humber CE PR

On Sex and the City season one, we meet Samantha Jones, a high powered PR executive. According to InStyle’s SATC Transformation, to create her powerful look, the hair and makeup team gave her deftly tweezed arches, sculpted eye shadow and sexy, piecey strands. This leads me to the question: do we have to be as flamboyant as Samantha to be an effective PR practitioner? When I ask students why they are interested in pursuing public relations, many say because they are a “people person,” they like speaking in front of groups and interacting with others.

It’s true there are times when a director of communications might be a voice in the frontline. When I was studying PR, we had a guest speaker from Air Canada visit our class just as the company was in chapter 11. On a busy day she had to do 160 press interviews. On a light day she had to do 10. She slept on a cot in her office and thrived on the adrenaline rush.

But believe it or not, if you are one of our more introverted friends, there is still a place for you in the field. Some of the best PR people tend to take a behind-the-scenes role. We put other people into the spotlight: the talent we represent, our CEOs and our public spokespeople. Often we coach them on how to speak to the media and other audiences in a way that is planned, deliberate and strategic. What makes a great PR person?

A great PR person has an ability to write on a deadline:

When there is something to report to the public on behalf of our brand, the chances are that it will be conveyed first in written form. Sometimes we only have an hour to package timely information into the form of a press release. If we delay for even a moment, it’s no longer timely and therefore no longer useful to anyone. PR has been known as one of the most stressful jobs in the world because of the speed at which we need to interpret info, package it and communicate it to the public; there is enormous room for error.

A great PR person has the ability to research:

As PR representatives, we are often ones to gauge public attitudes. How favourable is the public towards our brand?

What do people think about our products? How strong is our goodwill in the community? With digital technology we could find this information on social media with a simple keyword search. We are responsible to be the eyes and ears of our company.

A great PR person has an ability to practice strategic communications:

As previously stated, all communications to the public are planned, deliberate, strategic and accurate. What do we want people to know and remember about us? How do we want the public to respond to our message? What is the goal and objective behind it? Perhaps we are hoping to change or influence attitudes. Or maybe we are merely trying to reinforce positive opinions that are already prevalent.

Exciting or intimidating? Probably both. It’s work, but I can assure you that there will never be a day when we are waiting for the five o’clock whistle. We’re always on and constantly finding new and creative solutions to get the word out. In the end we can look back and feel fulfilled for playing an integral role in earning our brand a lovemark.

As for Samatha, I like the deftly tweezed arches, sculpted eye shadow and sexy, piecey strands. Every cocktail reception needs a life of the party. But to the rest of my PR friends and colleagues, one of my favourite professors once shared her invaluable wisdom: “Wear comfortable shoes. If we’re managing the media at a press conference, the last thing we need to worry about is our feet.”

And now I turn the question over to you; what quality will make you a great PR person?


PR at Humber in the RD Room

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