With Ab Fab hitting our screens this week it seemed timely to share an article I wrote for PR Week’s ‘Seeing Red’ column.
“After watching 11 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, if someone shouted ‘is there a doctor in the house?’ I think I might be inclined to jump up to help. Except, apart from my Girl Guides First Aid badge, I’m completely unqualified!
This assumption, that you’re qualified to do a job just because you know a bit about it, seems to be pretty prevalent in the countless job applications I receive from people trying to land a PR job.
I don’t believe a PR degree is mandatory to be ‘qualified’ to break into the industry and whilst it gives a head start, the best experience is gained from working on live projects, with real clients, budgets, decisions and results. In my book, job shadowing, work experience, internships and researching ‘real life PR’ can be more valuable than academic study.
So whilst I am open to welcoming non-PR grads into our industry; what makes me see red is the high number of applications I receive daily from candidates who are ‘passionate about getting into PR’, yet have failed to commit any time to finding out about the career.
Questioning them on their definition of PR, their expectation on the day to day demands and their interest in current affairs and the news agenda, I get responses that make me see fifty shades of red!
Perhaps the reason why applicants feel they can step into PR without any qualifications might be down to their perception of the PR industry from what they’ve seen on screen. With Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie premiering soon I fear even more people may get switched onto PR through the power of the TV.
So to bust the on screen myth those working in the industry need to PR the PR, communicating the demands and skills required to be successful in PR. This includes understanding the economic, social and political landscape, crunching data and analytics, fluency with a diverse range of technology platforms, as well as crafting compelling copy, generating creative ways to engage with an audience and making a making a killer pitch to persuade clients, stakeholders, media and influencers to get onboard with an idea. If only the film featured Patsy and Eddie grappling with excel spreadsheets, building media lists and compiling reports then I might be more hopeful that art might imitate life, but sadly that wouldn’t really make for an Ab Fab movie!