You don’t have to be a parent to be a great PRO, but it may help!
18th September 2013
Parents have a lot to juggle in their lives, and face criticisms for putting their children before their work. Just because family comes first does not mean that work has to suffer. In fact, PROs with kids claim that being parents teaches them valuable lessons that improve their work.
Stephen Waddington, European director at Ketchum PR and president-elect of CIPR, says that parents bring useful talents into the workplace: "Parenting isn't a prerequisite to being a public relations practitioner, but there are a lot of similarities between managing a family and managing a business and working with colleagues, clients and the media. I'm a much better manager having had a family as I have to hone skills of empathy, persuasion and motivation."
Waddington adds that a second benefit parents bring, is the useful knowledge of a key market: “A key aspect of public relations is understanding audiences and so there's an obvious advantage that any parent can bring to an organisation seeking to work in the parenting or family market. Their knowledge from a first-hand consumer perspective is likely to be invaluable to brands, particularly in the FMCG market."
Another plus to employing parents is that they can be super-efficient, as they have plenty of practice of achieving a lot in a short time. Helen Westgate, founder and director at agency Westgate Communications, describes how she quickly learnt to be rigorous about time keeping when she became a mother: “The arrival of parenthood definitely fine-tuned my PR skills – with the arrival of my terrifying nanny, I became the queen of time management, with an obsession for achieving the right results in the fastest possible time. All because I wanted to avoid her wrath at the end of the day, if I was more than five minutes late! Everything in my working day became focused on moving things along in the right direction and quickly, while avoiding mind-numbing meetings which achieved no objective.”
Westgate describes other skills that she has honed: “My multi-tasking skills have also vastly improved. As a working mum, your mind is constantly whirring away, working out meeting journey times to make sure that you are back in time for the school play or ensuring that both client activity reports and homework are done over the weekend.”
“Parenthood is also a crash course in negotiation, whether this is trying to calm down a toddler in the middle of the Post Office or trying to dissuade a teen that the latest body piercing is not a good idea. Fortunately, most clients do not cause quite the same levels of utter frustration, thank the Lord, but for most working parents, any business negotiation will seem like a walk in the park if you have just come from a family discussion which involved trying to remain calm while communicating through a locked door!”
How parenting helps you to be a PRO
Sue Wolstenholme, managing director at agency Ashley Public Relations:
“While experience of relationship forming and balancing is vital for a successful PR career it's pale without the knowledge and understanding of how relationships work and why they matter for reputation. But parenting definitely succeeds on love rather than books and it becomes more fun with experience.”
Nick Murray-Leslie, CEO of agency Chatsworth Communications:
“Parents definitely make excellent PROs as the skill set required is strikingly similar. Both children and clients can be naughty and unruly on occasion and need a steady, experienced hand to help them grow. The job also requires long hours, good communication skills and diplomacy, not to mention the ability to multi- task. Then there are the times when you have to hold their hands and find yourself clearing up their sh*t!”
Written by Daney Parker