“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian
When CareerCast posted a list of the top ten most stressful jobs this week, listing “Public Relations Officer” as the second most pressure-filled career (behind commercial airline pilots), it certainly sparked conversation in the social media sphere. From shout-outs of appreciation by those who made the list to cries of indignation from those who were excluded, there’s no doubt that the list had a polarizing effect on people from every professional path.
With a sluggish economy and an all-too-high level of unemployment, it’s no surprise that job stress is a hot topic. And yes, although I am biased, I do agree that a 24/7 news cycle, infinite avenues of information, smaller budgets, higher stakes and intense deadlines all contribute to PR’s virtual rollercoaster of thrills, chills and spills from one minute to the next. But – while lists such as these do provide a certain sense of validation – they also seem to miss the point.
Any job, regardless of field, is inherently stressful. Why? Because stress is subjective. For every person who shudders at the thought of getting up and giving a presentation, there’s a natural performer who lives for the chance to take to the stage. Sure, CareerCast cites high levels of responsibility for protecting a client’s image, public speaking opportunities, competitiveness and super-tight deadlines as the reasoning behind PR’s #2 ranking on the list. But for people who thrive on a fast-paced environment and who have a propensity for thinking quickly on their feet, it can be a career that is as rewarding as it is challenging.
So what are the pros, according to us PR pros? Check out this list of our top five reasons why PR, as a career path, is still worth considering:
- Variety is the spice of PR life: It can vary day-to-day and hour-to-hour (heck, even minute-to-minute), so if you’re looking for a career that will ward off boredom, PR may be a great fit. Particularly for us agency folks, we get exposure to a number of different companies, industries and challenges, bringing something new and exciting every day.
- Ability to go both broad and deep: From high-level strategy to media relations, drafting a press release to representing a company at a conference, PR pros have the opportunity to flex numerous mental muscles. But as with every team, you’re only as successful as the sum of your parts, so each member plays a vital role leveraging his or her natural “sweet spots.” For example, one person might be a big-picture thinking and a fountain of ideas during creative brainstorms, while another loves getting into the nitty-gritty of tactical elements of a campaign.
- There’s room for everyone: Yes, we are known for being master communicators and bringers of creative ideas, brainstorms and attention-grabbing antics, yet the most successful PR pros also know how to put their money where their mouth is and measure success in the form of analytics and metrics. Because what some dismiss as “fluff,” actually contributes to the bottom line, and we can prove it
- Access/interaction with execs: Regardless of where you’re at on the career totem pole, PR pros get excellent exposure to and opportunities to collaborate with senior executives as client companies when, normally, it requires years, if not decades, to secure a spot amongst the C-levels. We not only get the chance to be active participants in shaping the communications strategy of a company, but also get the added gift of learning firsthand about leadership
- High risks can translate into great rewards: Sometimes a solid communications strategy can be the determining factor in bringing a company back from the brink when its reputation is at stake. And while, yes, these crisis situations can certainly be stressful, there’s nothing more rewarding than being able to play a sometimes-critical role in helping to save or shape the future of an organization
But enough from us; we’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite parts of the PR gig?