They say policemen and women never truly clock off. Even when they’re off duty, they always have one eye out for trouble, ready to step into action. Well, it strikes me that PR people aren’t so different. When I’m not at work it’s amazing how often friends and family expect me to go into ‘PR mode’ to sort things out. To smooth things over. To fix things.
If I’m out with friends in a restaurant and someone grumbles that the food’s not up to scratch, what invariably comes next is: ‘Ask Maya to have a word with the manager, she’s good at this sort of stuff.’
Or if I’m in a store and there’s some haggling to be done over the price of an item, guess who’s pushed forward.
Even when it comes to something as simple as asking directions, the responsibility typically comes my way.
Does always being the ‘go-to’ person get on my nerves? Not really. I see it as a backhanded compliment. What people are effectively saying is: “Whatever the problem, whatever the situation, we trust you to handle it.”
In essence, being known for your positive, can-do mindset is what being a good PR rep is all about. It’s about being a safe pair of hands that clients can always rely on. And to be a safe pair of hands, you have to be a good all-rounder.
First of all, it goes without saying that we have to be resilient (Press Officer always features highly in those most-stressful-job lists - see the latest article on the largest Belgian job site Vacature).
Then, of course, we have to be able to communicate with people from all backgrounds – from the big-wigs in the senior management team, to the tech guys beavering away in R&D, to the workers plugging away on the shop floor.
And let’s not forget all the events like product launches, press conferences and trade shows. They demand all your organising and management skills, and involve some serious multi-tasking.
And when the chips are down, when a client is having a mini or full-scale crisis, we’re the ones they often turn to for counsel and to help steady the ship.
So given the amount of general ‘sorting out’ we do, it’s perhaps no wonder our PR skills are called upon so readily outside the workplace. At the end of the day, we’re often the ones people trust to get things done. Just ask our friends and family.