PROs: You need to step away from that keyboard and go out and enjoy yourself!
There is no question that technology speeds up many boring tasks. But although PROs may no longer be slaves to paperwork, they are spending hours chained to their computers. All the time that is spent communicating to people online, is time that could be spent meeting people face to face. Many are attracted to PR because it appears to involve communicating with lots of people, and having fun. But is this still true?
According to Chris Klopper, CEO of agency Mulberry Marketing Communications, the days of boozy lunches that stretch out until the evening may be over, but there is still plenty of fun to be had: “After all, even before social media was born, PR was the quintessential social industry with the added bonus that no two days are exactly the same in agency life.”
As far as being tied to a computer goes, Klopper says that he enjoys the challenge that the explosion of communications channels presents. He explains: “I am stimulated by the adoption of more integrated campaigns and I have my horizons broadened almost daily by the opportunities of the increasing internationalisation of campaigns that are being implemented out of London.”
Tapping keyboards is a vital part of a PRO’s job, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Graham Goodkind, founder of PR consultancy Frank PR believes that there is still plenty of time left over for doing exciting stuff: “What sort of job could you get to meet an England World Cup winner one day (for KitKat), ride a new rollercoaster the next (at Alton Towers) and learn how to make delicious bread, pastries and croissants (at Paul’s Bakery) as one of our executives has done in the last week? Add into the mix that you get to work with creative, fun, energetic and talented people who inspire, challenge and entertain and you've got a job that hardly really feels like it's work!”
There may be options to do fun stuff in trendy agencies, and in some sectors client-side, but surely it can get boring working in more established consultancies? However, as Lansons has recently been ranked in the independent Top 50 Great Places to Work survey, perhaps not. Sarah Tye, account executive, explains that it is the little things that really make a difference there: “We all work hard, and treats like leaving early once a month, fresh fruit, massages, birthday cakes and team treat budgets keep smiles on everyone’s faces even when deadlines are tight. Being in PR can be pretty demanding, but Lansons makes a real effort to make the office a fun place to be – and it is.”
Neil Boom, PR director of news navigator
“A lot of the fun's gone out of PR since the journalists have so little time to get out and about. Meeting people is a big attraction of the job, and being deskbound is a bore. Bring back the 1990s, the long boozy lunches, the big budgets, the sense of adventure. Still, it could be worse. I could be looking after Sarah Ferguson.”
Paul Sutton, head of digital PR at agency Bottle PR:
“PR is one of the most exciting and dynamic industries to be working in at the present time. The advent of mobile technologies and the social web is pushing PR down a completely new route, and this is both challenging and thrilling. Every day brings something new to the industry, there's a real community spirit among those of us driving this and it makes each day fresh. I guess we'd all rather be sitting on Bournemouth beach than sitting behind a desk when there's not a cloud in the sky and its 30 degrees outside, but given that life isn't like that, there's no other industry I'd rather work in.”
Claire Thompson, freelance PR consultant:
“I don’t find I am slave to the keyboard at all. Using social networking sites I have the ear of, and get to know, people that I might have taken years to get access to. There are that many social events around the whole industry, and so many people to meet, that the challenge is having a personal life, not opportunities to meet people and have fun.”
Blair Metcalfe, senior account executive at agency Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide:
“In PR agencies it is the nature of the beast for everyone, at some point, to be placed in front of a monitor developing square eyes as they pull together the all important report. But, if this is your entire life, you probably aren’t in PR, you most likely fell into an office administration job without realising it. PR is, and should rightly remain, a people industry. You can’t hide behind your keyboard when so much more can be established face-to-face. When I last checked journalists, clients and even bloggers were all living and breathing human beings, and as such entities they’ll relish the opportunity to once in a while meet in a boardroom or bar. Until a virtual beer can quench my Friday afternoon thirst, PR will not be a world of the computer alone. We are people people.”
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