If you’re a woman working in the PR industry, then you’ll know that gut-wrenching feeling after you tell someone what you do and they say: “Oh, so you’re a PR girl?” I mean, yes I am technically a PR girl I suppose, but it’s the unlined insinuation that a PR girl is – as this person described to me at the time – someone who “hands out flyers for nightclubs” that really gets to me.
This is probably something many women in the PR industry have dealt with at some time in our careers. Like many other women, it’s something I laugh off when asked and explain that actually in fact PR requires an incredible skillset combining analytics, creative and strategic thinking.
So, last week when I attended PRSA’s Meet PR Power Women I was ready to be inspired by a panel of successful, strong women, and the panel did not disappoint. The topics discussed did not solely focus on ‘what it means to be a woman in PR’, but it definitely touched on some of the hurdles we must deal with. Here are some of my key takeaways:
- We must never stop asking why. We are strategic counsellors, not girls handing out flyers, so it is important we always, always get to the route of WHY our client or boss is asking us to promote something. We must always ask what we’re trying to achieve before developing a recommendation, so that we really understand what the business wants and needs, and develop the comms approach accordingly.
- The industry is changing, but stories are still at the heart of what we do. Ultimately, the audience still needs to think and feel something, and our ability to tell stories that not only resonate, but make our audience act isn’t going anywhere. With so many social media platforms at our fingertips, we simply have more places to tell our story and ultimately reach our audience.
- Be fearless and take risks. A huge part of our job requires bravery in the sense that to be heard we must sometimes tell bold stories. As women we have a history of being told to quieten our voices and play it safe, but to do our job well it requires that we do the opposite. We must talk about the things that may make people feel uncomfortable, or take the risk with a story or stunt that could as easily fail as it could succeed. We must be fearless and take risks to succeed in this industry, and push our clients or bosses to do the same.
So do it. PR like a girl. Be brave, be fearless and take risks.
That is PR’ing like a girl.