I recently had the opportunity to have two meetings/job interviews with Colin Byrne, UK & EMEA CEO of Weber Shandwick, and Joe Sinclair, Creative Director & Founder of Romans PR. Both men asked me why I wanted to get into public relations. I gave them the short answer in the meetings, but wanted to expand upon it in a blog post.
To me, PR is an industry where so many different areas of study combine. It is the most interdisciplinary of industries because it uses ideas, strategies, and knowledge from multiple fields. PR combines psychology, behavioral economics, literature, maths, science, art, communications studies, reputation management, government, media studies, technology, cultural/anthropological studies, pop culture, and more.
This is how creativity in public relations works: having a team that knows about as many topics as possible makes for better ideas. True creativity nowadays is hard to get–it seems like everything’s already been done. But modern creativity, I think, is looking for new ways to recombine, riff on, remake, or recall old ideas. Technology has certainly given creatives a new avenue through which to produce, especially in terms of format of content (video, audio, 3D, images, etc), but the content of ideas comes from using what you already know.
Anyone who’s ever met and gotten to know me knows that I absolutely love ideas. I LOVE LEARNING. I have a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity that constantly has me listening to podcasts (RadioLab and Freakonomics are two of my favorites), reading news articles and thought pieces and books, and–much to my partner’s annoyance–pulling over from walking/traveling wherever to pause and read informational signs on the side of the road. (I even did this to him as we were walking to the gate at the Las Vegas airport to read the history of the airlines based there).
As much as I like to listen, I also like to talk. I like to share what I’ve learned. I manage to bring up something I’ve learned recently in just about every conversation I have. This is partly why I have gone into PR–I want to share with the public something cool I’m working on. I want to shape perceptions about something the public doesn’t know enough about. I really like the media, so it’s inspiring to think about how to share a message through the media, hoping someone will see it and learn the way I did.
PR is hard. Creativity is hard. Working with the media is hard. Popular representations of what we do don’t do justice to my industry. You can’t be lazy and want to work in PR–just to toot my own horn, someone once commented to me in amazement: “Hannah, are you physically capable of procrastination?” (Nope).
I pride myself on being kind of a wild card. Because I’m a junior employee who hasn’t focused on a special kind of PR yet, I have the privilege of being flexible. I can throw myself into a problem, learn as much as I can about it, and figure out a solution. This is why I love public relations–you have to be hungry. For knowledge, for creativity, whatever–I’m in.