I'm a new grad and I'm trying to pick a direction to go on my job search. Any PR pros out there that can share what they like and dislike about being in PR?

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last year

A public relations career is a wonderful choice in my opinion! :-) So many things I love, and there are plenty of hard things too.

Good stuff:

  • Variety! The PR profession isn't one-size-fits-all. The PR tools you use depend on a wide range of factors, including the company, product or person you represent, and as you mature in your career you get to unlock even more variety. When you start out, expect to primarily be supporting your team, building media lists, doing research, writing pitches and blogs, securing media meetings, etc. As you become more skilled, you might get to coach executives on how to do press interviews, build narratives for your company, help manage big company events or crisis moments, and even speak on behalf of your company to the media.
  • Excitement! PR isn't a clock-in, clock-out line of work, and there's always something to charge towards if you're hungry. This can be very exciting and fun, and I'm personally never bored. There are boom periods where it's all hands on deck, like when you're launching a new product. There are planning phases that allow you to unleash your creativity and get the rush of knowing the story before it hits the headlines, because you're creating it. The pace is fast and ever-changing.

Tough stuff:

  • Being "always on." The news today is a 24/7 cycle and public relations professionals can find themselves on a similar clock as a result. Sometimes, I'll get an important media request at 8p with a quick deadline, and unfortunately, in this line of work many things can't wait until the next business day. How "always on" you are depends on the pace and needs of your company or your clients, and some seasons of your career will require more late hours than others. It's not to say balance is impossible -- just recognize PR isn't a traditional 9-5, so you'll have to get creative to structure your life so it works for you.
  • Stress. As you get more senior, the job can require you to make high-pressure, high-stakes decisions that don't always have guaranteed good outcomes. It's part of the job to always be thinking and planning for worst case scenarios (just thinking about the worst-case can trigger worry and stress). You ultimately can't control what gets written about your company, you can only do your best to influence. Sometimes, you're going to have a bad headline and it can suck. There's a reason why PR ranks as a "most stressful job," and some can manage stress better than others. That said, the stressful parts of the job get much easier (and less stressful!) over time as you gain more and more experience.
last year

Great comment Michelle. Thanks for the insight. Learning how to deal with stress is a skill that everyone needs to develop, no matter what career path they take. Stress has many sources, whether it be from raising a child, maintaining relationships, dealing with the loss of loved ones, starting a new job, or moving to a new city. Having played poker professionally for nine years, I've certainly learned not to sweat the small stuff. I'm sure there are parallels with PR, in that your success is often defined by how you perform when things aren't going so well. In poker, it's all about avoiding "tilt" since minimizing losses is far more important than maximizing wins. The same can be said for managing a brand. Many careers have been defined (and ended) at companies like VW and Wells Fargo recently.

It sounds like a career in PR pays dividends in other aspects of life if you can weather the storm in challenging times. Having a high-pressure job shouldn't always be seen as a bad thing, in that it can make life's ups and downs easier to handle.

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