A PR Girl Shares How to Deal with Career Disappointment

When it comes to the world of fashion PR, disappointment, much like a pair of painful shoes, is simply regarded as an occupational hazard. It’s a glamorous world out there, or so it seems, but as seasoned PR professionals know: for every stellar media hit, there are also misses, and those misses can be heartbreaking if you’re not in the right state of mind.

The celebration of a major media hit on a Monday vanishes when Friday rolls around and a key client placement falls through. It happens to the best of us and the good news is, we become more resilient publicists because of it. Having a graceful amount of grit and determination is something that can only come as the result of hard earned experience. Painful as they may be, those moments can also offer a unique opportunity for growth. Here are 5 tips on how to thrive when the going gets tough.

1. Focus on Building Relationships

Everything you do in the aftermath of disappointments is a direct reflection of you. While that may seem harsh to newbies, it’s the truth. Shifting your focus to a long-term view of relationship building is crucial and will ultimately be the key to success. I once had a client who did not have the budget to work with me and as a result turned down a proposal I spent hours working on.  It was a crushing blow in the moment, but a few weeks later they re-worked their numbers and decided they wanted to work together on an even larger scale than initially planned. Rather than getting disappointed when the initial proposal didn’t work out, I chose to focus on maintaining a working relationship with the brand and that made all the difference.

2. Look for opportunities where there are obstacles

Setbacks are a part of life, and in PR they’re just part of the game. Instead of choosing to see obstacles as devastating setbacks you can choose to perceive them as opportunities to build your brand and strengthen your character.  I once worked with an editor who declined to feature one of my clients because she didn’t feel it was the right time to tell the brand story. It was a major disappointment but I had to respect her vision for the timing. A few months later the editor ended up doing a feature story, positioning the line as a must-have for women.  It was even better coverage than we initially hoped to secure and it made all the difference for the brand. After the initial no, I kept the conversation going and continued to keep the editor updated on brand developments. She appreciated my persistence and later told me that it was my positive attitude and collaborative spirit that made her want to keep in touch.

Setbacks are a part of life, and in PR they’re just part of the game. Instead of choosing to see obstacles as devastating setbacks you can choose to perceive them as opportunities to build your brand and strengthen your character.

3. Re-evaluate your approach

Sometimes we are so action-oriented that we forget to maximize our messaging. Could it be possible that despite the best of intentions your message didn’t yield results because it was not targeted properly? If you are not gaining traction with your pitch, it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board and focus on stronger messaging. We already know that blanket pitches don’t work because they are notoriously impersonal. No one likes to receive an email addressed to “insert editor name here”. Trust me, I’ve gotten a few of those in my time and they are always the ones I instantly delete. Spend time figuring out what editors are interested in and position your product in a way that adds value to both the editor and the readers.

4. Wait until it’s perfect, then change everything

The running joke in PR is that just when everything seems to be going smoothly something inevitably changes. A key member of the team moves on, a deal falls through, or worse, you find yourself doing damage control on a media hit gone wrong. Learning how to be flexible in situations and quickly adapt is crucial for your career. Spending time being disappointed when things don’t go “according to plan” is a huge waste of time. Instead, focus your energy on finding creative solutions to problems so that you can move forward. You might find out that your alternate approach was even better than your initial one.

Learning how to be flexible in situations and quickly adapt is crucial for your career. Spending time being disappointed when things don’t go “according to plan” is a huge waste of time.

5. Look before you leap, but jump anyway

If you never do anything big for fear that you’ll be disappointed with the outcome you’ll never have the chance to learn and grow from your mistakes. A slight shift in perception can make all the difference when it comes to disappointments, and let’s face it, in the world of PR, we happen to be pretty good at finding a stylish way to spin things. So get out there and make things happen this year and if you find yourself faced with challenges, take a deep breath and jump right in.

Photo Credit: André-Batista

About This Author

Known for having her finger on the pulse of all things fashion, Sydney Mintle is a Seattle-based fashion marketing specialist with industry experience in retail, apparel manufacturing, marketing, social media, and event production. At a very young age she set her sights on the fashion industry and never looked back. She began her career working on the sales floor of a local boutique and eventually made her way up to the fashion office. Sydney deeply understands the inner-workings of the fashion industry and enjoys working with clients to find creative solutions to specific needs. Follow Sydney on Twitter @GossipGlamour.