Public relations: A family affair

December 15, 2016
 

If you told me I would be working in PR 10 years ago, I probably would’ve laughed in your face.

It’s nothing against the industry, really. Call it a case of teenage angst, or a desire for independence, but I really didn’t want to do what my mom did for a living.

Did I understand what my mom’s job entailed? No. Did I even have the slightest clue what PR was about? Absolutely not. Instead, I was always an independent child and thought there was no way I was going to follow in someone else’s footsteps. It was going to be my way or the highway, regardless of whether or not I knew what I was shutting down before I could even give it a chance.

As a sophomore in high school, I decided journalism would be my career path. (I know, I know... the irony isn’t lost on me). Long story short, journalism just wasn’t for me. Once my teenage years came to an end, I finally decided to give PR a shot… and thank goodness I did.

Not only did my mom’s experience come in handy during college (I had my own personal professor just a phone call away), but I find her “PR Mom-isms” sneaking their way into my job every day. Below are four lessons from my PR pro of a mom that I use way more often than my stubborn side would like to admit.

1. Tech is so much cooler than you might think.

Once I declared my PR major, I swore off tech PR. (I couldn’t do exactly what my mom did, now could I?) It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I decided to give it a shot. As a PR major at Boston University, I quickly learned that technology is the industry to get into. Every day, there are amazing new startups popping up left and right. (Okay, maybe I’m a bit biased, but if the CEO of GE said it, it must be true.) 

My mom is always so excited to onboard new clients. She’ll spend hours reading up on them, learning about the technology behind the company and the industry as a whole. I’ve found that I am just as eager when it comes to our clients. (It doesn’t hurt that we work with some of the smartest CEOs in the business, many of whom I truly believe could change the industry completely one day.)

2. PR is constantly changing.

My mom’s first job in PR was far different than mine. Social media wasn’t a thing. Neither was email, for that matter.

We often talk about how back in the day she used to deliver press releases by hand to news contacts. Whenever her clients had news, she’d jump in a cab and drive over to the Boston Globe. Can you image sacrificing that much time out of your day when you can send an email in less than two minutes?

Lucky for us, how we communicate and connect with people is changing every day. However, that means we constantly need to be flexible in how we do our job. Just like we’re figuring out the best way to contact reporters on Twitter, my mom had to do the same when learning how to contact them via email.

3. Reporters are people, too.

Believe it or not, public relations is all about relationships. The general public can include customers, partners, vendors, investors and of course, the media. Reporters are perhaps the biggest gatekeepers we interact with in our day-to-day jobs, and taking the time to build a rapport with them pays off on a long-term scale.

To this day, my mom has amazing 20-year-long relationships with influential journalists. I’ll come home and tell her I’m pitching Bob at XYZ Journal and she’ll say, “Oh yeah, Bob and I are great friends! Here’s how you should pitch him.” While the tips are super important, what I take away from these conversations most is the importance of building connections with reporters. After all, they are normal people doing their jobs, and when we can help them deliver for their audiences, they remember.

4. No one said it was easy.

To everyone out there who doesn’t really understand what PR is, please don’t compare our jobs to Samantha Jones’. What we do every day is not nearly as glamorous or easy as the “Sex and the City” character makes it out to be.

However, I really, truly believe that my daily PR work is far more rewarding than depictions of the industry I’d seen in movies and TV. Helping your client stand out among industry noise isn’t easy by any means. There are going to be roadblocks (usually at the most inconvenient times), but these are the challenges we live for as media pros. There’s nothing better than seeing the pure excitement on my mom’s face when she lands a huge media hit that moves her client closer to a business goal – and nothing more motivating.

While I didn’t ever think I’d end up where I am today, I’m really glad I did. Thanks, mom, for secretly inspiring me to get into PR. You can now say the four words I hate to hear: “I told you so.”

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