What Kind of Person Do I Need To Be To Do Well In Public Relations?

A common misconception about public relations practice is that all you need to be is a 'people person' – ie. someone who loves talking and going to social events.

Wrong.

Yes, it is true that it helps to have a strong interest in people. But not necessarily just at the level of socialising. Public relations increasingly attracts people with a strong sense of values who enjoy the challenge of working with different kinds of people to achieve outcomes acceptable to everyone.

This can involve working with difficult people (many of whom who are definitely NOT 'people persons'!), spending long periods thinking through sensitive or challenging situations and then equally long periods being patient, persistent, flexible, empathetic, understanding and resilient in the face of difficulty and frustration.

By and large, public relations is not a good career for pure chatter-boxes or party animals. It needs a special combination of skills and attributes, and some of them take a lot of work and self discipline to master. But the people who do have the right attributes and can master the skills are able to develop fantastic, worthwhile and rewarding careers.

It’s also worth noting that there are lots of specialised roles that come under the general heading of public relations. These can include corporate communication, speechwriting and copywriting, event management, community relations, investor relations, government relations, issues and crisis management, internal communication, online communications and many other roles. So different kinds of public relations can appeal to different kinds of people, and you can change what you are doing over time as your situation or interests change.

If you enjoy a lot of variety, you might prefer to work in a consultancy which handles public relations projects for many different clients. If you want to get more intimately involved with an employer on a long-term basis, you can work 'in-house'. If you want to work for a worthy cause, you can seek out one that needs public relations. If you want to be a corporate high flyer, you can seek this out too.

Whatever you want the focus of your public relations career to be, all these roles come back ultimately to helping with communication, relationships and reputation.

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 26 2015