My Year in PR
By Zainab Fawad
Early last year, dissatisfied with my work life, I began looking into different roles. PR seemed to be the right fit for me, but I was worried about making the switch. Would it utilise my skills to their highest standards and teach me new ones? Could I be creative with the work I did? Would my day-to-day professional life be, for want of a better phrase, less mundane? Bringing with me a background in academia, a passion for writing, and an interest in the world of technology, I finally made my move into B2B tech PR.
Some of my questions were answered quickly, but others were part of a longer learning process. I was told the learning curve would be a steep one, and it was. Even now, I continue to gain knowledge and acquire new skills every day. That’s one of the great things about PR – the stimulating environment means you’re always picking up new things, even years into the job. Fortunately for me, the learning curve has been a positive and captivating one.
Networking, I quickly learnt, was vital to PR. Developing relationships with the media is important, because it means you can reach more people and provide better exposure to your client’s brand. Maintaining these relationships is just as essential, since they can lead to more opportunities for the client down the road – and, with time, you can become well-versed with what different journalists or outlets tend to look for.
With a number of clients, all running multifaceted PR campaigns and targeting different audiences, you also need a good system for keeping track of everything that’s going on. This is where preparation and organisational skills come in. In particular, good time management is required to hit multiple deadlines and keep everyone happy.
Along with networking and preparation and organisational skills, PR relies heavily on a particular way of writing. Although I joined B2B tech PR with a strong background in academic writing, I soon learnt that it had its own rules and requirements. In addition to being aimed at a broader audience, PR writing:
- Favours bullet points, subheadings, and shorter paragraphs and sentences. All of this makes for easier reading and skimming for the general audience.
- Uses simpler language. This isn’t to say that the text is ‘dumbed down’; no, there just isn’t as much jargon used.
- Is more conversational. While not informal, PR writing tends to be a little more ‘relaxed’ in nature, at least compared to academic writing.
- Should be persuasive. PR writers are skilled at being both persuasive and conversational at the same time. They make sure to adopt an active voice and keep their goal of persuading the reader that their client’s brand is the best in the market.
- Presents the ‘conclusion’ at the start. PR writing lays out the point for discussion and then aims to convince the reader to agree. As opposed to an academic article, the final few paragraphs do not summarise everything at the end.
A year in, I continue to find the world of PR an alluring one. The fast-paced environment, which brings with it interesting new tasks each day, has led to more professional and personal development than I experienced in my non-PR-related roles. While the learning curve has indeed been steep, I have acquired a number of useful skills – and have never experienced a ‘dull’ day at work.