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What I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Out in PR

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The PR (Public Relations) industry has historically been rated as one of the most stressful industries to work in. This is a global census, of course, and things don’t look all that different in the UAE. From managing expectations end-to-end with not only impatient clients, but influencers, external agencies, media, and also your team, the job can be difficult. Difficult, but not impossible, and definitely rewarding at times.

I started my PR journey right out of university, so I’ve learned quite a bit in the last year and a half. Fresh-faced and a little nervous about my first job, I had no idea what to expect. Like any internship or entry-level job, I started out doing mostly administrative work like reports and clipping coverage. And while I still do those things, I’ve also learned to appropriately engage with unhappy clients and expecting influencers. 

Here are the top things I wish I’d known before I started out in PR – or rather, the things I’ve learned working in PR.

Time is Money in PR

The early bird catches the worm – this is not only true of early risers, but also the agencies that pitch their clients to fulfill media requests at the earliest. If you take more than an hour to respond to a request, you’re less likely to be featured.

Tip: Having high-resolution images and a finalized boiler plate on hand for every client is especially useful when it comes to media requests. When kicking off with a new client, chase them for high-resolution images, as it will be your saviour.

Patience is Virtue, But Only to an Extent

Good things come to those who wait – but better things come to those who push. Influencers can be a wonderful outlet for coverage, especially because you can see it within the week as opposed to traditional media, where it takes somewhere between three weeks to three months to see coverage. Some influencers, however, can be very tricky to work with – especially if it’s a gifting-based collaboration. Chase, chase, chase for coverage if it’s been too long and you haven’t seen anything from them. Doing this will help remind them in case they have forgotten to post.

Tip: Attack from all sides – emails and Instagram DMs seem to work the best. Even WhatsApp them if you have their number.

Kill Them with Kindness

I came into PR as a 22-year-old, fresh out of university. I was still a child in many ways, pre-developed if you will. One of them was practicing diplomacy. I have to thank my first-ever manager for teaching me to just smile and nod when things get a little crazy because in the end they always blow over. Plus, it’s not the end of the world if a client gets a little angry – after all, our job is to help our clients build an engaging brand, and sometimes their ideas are just not media-worthy. 

Tip: If a client brings up an outrageous idea, say that you will “bring it up with the team” and get back to them. Then, suggest an alternative. Just saying no helps no one, but a solution-based discussion is bound to be fruitful.

You can’t please everyone, you always

As a PR professional in Dubai, UAE, one of the earliest realizations you have is that you are the middleman (well, a woman in our case) between a client and the outside world, whoever that may be – influencers, media, and event planners. That means you may become a punching bag for some difficult people. Setting boundaries is healthy, in both personal and professional life, and that’s what will save you the wrinkles that come from trying to please everyone.

Tip: Don’t be a yes (wo)man. You can go the extra mile without always saying yes to everything. Work hard, but work smart – your efforts will be recognized with success, not just hard work.

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