UPDATE: Thanks to the suggestion from our good friend @JamieLaceyPR, we created a poll where PR pros can vote for which circus character they are. Scroll to the bottom to take the poll!
We’ve been thinking about what makes a great PR person, and the various roles we have to play on a daily basis. More and more, we’re starting to think that working in PR is like working in the circus. And not only because it can be a chaotic experience. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and at the same time you have to be able to play a lot of different roles and do a lot of different things–all at the same time. And you’re expected to do them well.
Here are some typical roles we see at the circus…or in a PR person. It’s getting hard to tell the difference.
The Lion Tamer
Ah, the lion tamer. One of our favorite acts at the circus. Lion tamers have to be firm and fearless. They can’t flinch or show fear when they step into the ring with a number of big cats. And they need to be in command of their situation. A great PR person is like that. They’re not afraid to do what it takes to make things happen. They have an objective, and they work and work until they reach it, even when that means facing something that could maul them with a simple swipe.
The Tightrope Walker
This one’s especially true for those who work at agencies. A great PR person deftly walks the very thin line between what a client wants and what a client needs. Sometimes, clients have a specific objective in mind–like get on the front page of the New York Times. Yet, they don’t always know what’s involved (that’s why they hire us), or don’t necessarily understand why being on the front page of the nation’s newspaper of record isn’t necessarily a good thing. Great PR pros not only take the time to figure what’s really going to make an impact for a client (in a positive way), but also are deft at telling the client what they need to hear–not just what they want to hear.
A great PR pro is someone who is extremely flexible. We have to be. We often spend our days with a to do list that’s a million miles long, our phones and emails are constantly buzzing, and sometimes our strategies need to turn on a dime.
The Ring Leader
A great PR pro needs to know what’s going on around him or her all the time. This is true at all levels of the industry–whether you’re just starting out or you run your own show. You need to know what’s happening in the news and your clients’ industries. You need to know what’s happening with your clients. You need to know what’s happening with your coworkers. And you need to make it look like it’s all going off without a hitch–even when you’re not sure if things will come together the way you’ve envisioned them.
No matter how seriously we take our clients’ business, we always leave time for a little light-hearted fun. ‘Cause all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Plus, if you can’t make fun of yourself, who can you make fun of?
The Human Cannonball
This one’s simple: A great PR pro knows how to get attention. That said, a great PR pro also knows that it takes more than just gimmicks to get the job done.