I took my first intrepid steps into the PR world in August last year when I joined Magenta as an account executive. I couldn’t tell you what my preconceptions of the profession were, as I honestly don’t remember. However, since August I’ve been on something of a crash course. It’s been thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m now well versed in the nature of the beast that is “public relations”.
I’m sure others would agree that when you tell someone you work in PR, often you’re met with the question, “so what exactly do you do?”. I don’t blame them, this is exactly the question I would have asked five months ago. However, it’s the illusive fluidity of the role that I now enjoy. My role as an account executive, when compared with another in a different agency, may be completely different. And the nature of my day-to-day activities is completely dependent on the needs of the client. In my first few months, I had attended a factory site tour, overseen a journalist interview in the dizzying heights of The Shard, booked canapes and booze for 100 people, attended a counter-terror event, and produced articles on topics such as GDPR and e-waste. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Clichés are such because often they’re true – and the old adage ‘no two days are the same’ is simply the best way to justify my enjoyment of the job.
That said, the abstract nature of PR leaves it open to interpretation (whether positive or negative). And I would argue that this in turn means that we do not necessarily get the credit we deserve. Even more so, now that companies are turning to ‘quick win’ marketing methods such as paid-for advertising. Never will a brands story be told in the way good PR can tell it, and no AI will be able to creatively present these ideas in weird and wonderful ways that capture the imagination – what robot would comprehend weaving workplace technology trends into the narrative of Back to the Future, as M-Person Esme did.
At the risk of sounding like a pity PRty (sorry, I can’t help myself), it’s not an easy role to fulfill. Often, our relationship with clients can be similar to that of an external party. The industry as a whole is often viewed as an unnecessary expenditure – frilly, champagne-swilling ‘people persons’ that can talk for England, but to what end? And with multiple clients to please it can feel like you’re constantly walking a tightrope. On top of that, there’s plenty of travel and networking (add in some juggling). Plus, the reputation of your clients’ brand is in your hands (make that fire juggling).
More often than not though, it’s a hugely rewarding and fun job. And perhaps part of the charm is not only proving its worth, but also demonstrating the benefits of what we do to those not necessarily in the know. Finding the balance is tricky, but once the balance has been struck and you’ve built lasting connections with your clients and the media, you’re set.
By Gemma Norris, account executive.