Niches and pitches

Do you ever second-guess yourself? Does it ever become so overwhelming you have to perform positive affirmations to ensure you don’t drive yourself insane?

I do. I’ll admit it in a heartbeat. The beauty of being human is that we can learn and we can evolve. I’ve made mistakes that I’ll never forget as well as mistakes I can’t seem to remember — thank goodness. Mistakes have allowed me to learn and move on. I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made and the consequences that have followed.

What does this have to do with PR? Well. I could make a number of mistakes on a daily basis as a practitioner. I could easily pick the wrong niche or pitch the wrong pitch. I read a phenomenal article today about finding your niche in PR. The questions seem simple enough:

  • “When you’re not at work, what are you doing?” (Usually cooking or working out)
  • “When you’re reading articles or nonfiction books, what are they about?” (History, biographies of people I admire, best practices for my field, inspirational women, and Mississippi)
  • “What is your favorite way to spend your free time?” (With family, with my boyfriend, and with my friends; I also love being outside)
  • “If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?” (A good role model)

Which industries would I fit in best with? I’m not entirely sure. I’m hopeful that someone will be looking for a (enter commonly used adjectives here including but not limited to: motivated, unique, determined) team player with interests in American history, strong females, healthy lifestyles, the South and the field of mass communication.

Then the article continues to ask more PR-specified and skill-related questions. Those answers are really just for me to consider right now. I will say that I would much rather be proactive in my responses to crises versus reactive. Not all crises will be eliminated, but I’m going to be diligent in my attempts to alleviate probable issues.

Will I choose the wrong niche? Most likely. Will I pitch something that will rub someone the wrong way at some point? I’m sure. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is that pleasing everyone will never be a reality. I’m willing to learn from my mistakes, pick myself up through affirmations, move on to the next project and leave my mark though.

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I’m just telling a story

Public relations isn’t easily defined.

The name for the industry itself is a bit intimidating:

Public…which means people…lots of people…who need things…from me.

Relations…now I have to form relationships…with lots of people…who will need things…from me.

I attended the PRSSA 2013 National Conference in Philadelphia Oct. 25 – 29. Aside from climbing the “Rocky Steps” and visiting landmarks such as Independence Hall and Love Park, most of my time spent at the conference was in sessions learning about how to utilize my skill sets (or acquire new skills) to be the best PR practitioner I can be.

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I like the sound of that just as much as you do. What I actually learned, however, is that PR has gone through a complete metamorphosis within the last decade. “The press release is dead” is a phrase I read and hear often. I don’t believe that’s the case though.

From the various speakers I was fortunate enough to learn from, a common concern was that PR has shifted from an incredibly personal field where genuine relationships must be cultivated to ensure success to a seemingly virtual world of social networking to form short-term partnerships.

It could be argued that all relationships are now somewhat virtual. I can sift through my Facebook timeline and find out a friend from high school got married over the weekend in Fiji without having to speak to him/her. Congrats by the way.

My argument, however, is that the foundation and building blocks of public relations still exist. Ethical decision-making is key and fostering relationships with key publics will always be the goal. Another common theme I noticed at the conference is the idea of PR practitioners being the “storytellers” of the communication field.

We want to know your story and we want to share your story. First we may have to humanize your story and help you develop said story, but in the end it’s still a matter of us telling the story of you, your brand or your company.

Give me your story, and I’ll do my best to tell the world.

Why everyone needs (good) PR

What is Public Relations? 

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It’s simple really. PR acts as a bridge between an entity/person and its audience(s). We are the middle man. We break barriers that tend to build when communication (external and internal) is lacking. We attempt to avoid crises…but our methods aren’t foolproof. 

I love the field that I am gaining an education in. It’s fast-paced and constantly evolving. There’s nothing static about public relations. We are the people who are learning the importance of a simple tweet or Facebook post. We know how to break down the Return on Investment of free platforms which allow companies to interact with loyal customers. 

I find it’s tough to be confident about the field of PR as a budding practitioner. We catch flack for our positions within companies; not many people know (or care to know) about the importance of our insight. We have to be aware 100% of the time. Meaning we have to know the positives and negatives of the internal culture of the client as well as the external variables that exist. Hindrances are often and accolades are few. 

In all honesty, that’s what motivates me. I’m determined to prove why PR is integral to a successful business or simple venture. Social media is the forefront communication. I like to think that after several classes focused on social media, I know what’s going on without hesitation. That’s just not the case, though. Again…PR is fast-paced and ever evolving. Anything and everything will change from one minute to the next. Timelines are obsolete because there are no solidified predictions. 

I’m excited to see where PR will be in 5 years. I have a feeling we will become the go-tos versus the “what do you do?” 

If I had it my way

The following passage can be used as a) inspiration, b) a means to keep me on track and motivated or c) collateral…you choose.

I didn’t know that when I decided to major in Public Relations as an entering undergrad that it would be the perfect choice for me. Honestly, my mom told me to do it. Sharon knows best, after all.

I thought PR was this ultra-glamorous lifestyle, not a professional career. (Hence Samantha from Sex and the City) Public Relations is hard, people. There is no set-in-stone route; there is no sincere formula to ensure success. Every company is different and every client is different. In the same token, the fact that no boundaries (except for the ethical kind) exist makes me all the more excited to pursue a career in a field that is so fresh.

If I had it my way, my dream job would incorporate music, public relations (social media, strategic and event planning, etc.) and social activism to create awareness and advocacy for various issues facing the world today. I’ve always wanted to leave my mark while I’m here on earth. Let’s be real–80 years of life is a drop in the bucket in comparison to how long the Earth has been spinning on its axis.

One conundrum: I want to remain completely true to myself. I want to be able to face myself in the mirror each morning and think, “I’m doing something that matters and I’m fulfilled.” 

So what is my master plan? I don’t have one. I know what kind of music I love, I know what social media tactics to be aware of, and I know what issues I am passionate about. I suppose I’ll start there. (I’ve used first person quite a bit in this post; disregard the “I’s” and say “Dinosaur” while reading this if it gets boring or redundant.)

For now, I’m going to focus on the classes I am taking that will help me refine the skills I will use in my field, I’m going to keep listening to awesome music, and I’m going to keep blowing up Twitter and Facebook feeds with articles concerning gender equality, education, etc.