4 Truths About Working in PR (You Won’t Learn These in School)

Things They Don’t Teach You About PR in School

I think PR is one of the most misunderstood industries. Every time I tell someone that I am a publicist, they aren’t quite sure what my tasks entail. Yes, they have heard the word before, but it is almost like an ambiguous buzzword.

I don’t blame them because up until I actually entered the PR world, I didn’t completely understand what I would be doing. Like most college students, I couldn’t exactly decide what I wanted to do with my life. I floated through a few different majors before landing on communications. When I made the decision to go into PR, my perception of PR only included fabulous parties and 3-hour client lunches.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but working in PR isn’t like that. It is a real job with deadlines and demanding clients. Getting out of college, I am not sure that I was prepared for the “real world” as a publicist. Here are a few things I wish I would have known:

Public Relations is not a glamorous industry

While yes, sometimes there are fun parties or events, those probably will not be the majority of your job. I wouldn’t pick PR as a career because you think it is going to be fun. Like any job there are good and bad aspects. A lot of people’s idea of PR comes from what they see on movies or TV shows (ala Samantha Jones in Sex and the City). Unfortunately, that is not the life a publicist from day-to-day, so be prepared to work hard.

You have to create the PR-worthy news for your clients

When I first started pitching, I would just send editors information about my clients, and hope they could find a fit. When I wasn’t getting great results, I soon realized that you have to put in more work than that. It helps if you suggest a story idea and a place in the publication that you think would be a fit. Editors and writers get so much information that the more specific you can be the better.

There is a lot of rejection working in PR

I didn’t realize how hard it is to get one placement. Media contacts will say “no”, a lot more than they say “yes”. Not going to lie, it can be frustrating, but you have to learn to have a thick skin. When someone doesn’t like what you pitched, you have to find a new publication or new story idea.

Creating writers and poets need not apply

If you like creative writing, PR is probably not the industry for you. From my experience, the writing practices are the most outdated thing they teach in school. One time, I was interviewing possible interns, and many of them brought sample pitches to show me. Most of them were about a page long!

We live in a world where the shorter the better. You don’t have much time to grab people’s attention before they move onto the next thing. PR writing should be concise and to the point.

For you PR grads – what surprised you most about PR life post graduation?

Photo Credit: Steffi Au

About This Author

Rebekah Epstein is the founder of fifteen media, an agency that works exclusively with PR firms to streamline media relations in a digital era. She specializes in business, lifestyle, fashion and beauty. Rebekah also blogs about all things Gen Y at NeonNotebook.com.