Stickies, Highlighters and a Monthly Planner

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By Victoria Corley

What personality traits make a professional successful in the field of public relations? Generally, if you ask someone this question you will hear a very generic and somewhat delightful list of traits that could just as easily describe the main character of a Disney movie.

Before writing this blog, I composed a list of traits that make a successful PR practitioner. After doing highly qualified research, on Google of course, I found the following personality traits commonly used to describe PR professionals:

  • A professional demeanor
  • Accessibility, approachability
  • Confidence
  • Drive, motivation
  • Gregarious in nature
  • Highly developed communication skills
  • management skills
  • openness

The list sounds powerful and even a bit enchanting, but are these the only characteristics of an impressive PR pro?

The U.S. Department of Labor stated, “People who choose public relations as a career should have an outgoing personality, self-confidence, an understanding of human psychology and an enthusiasm for motivating people. They should be assertive but able to participate as part of a team and be open to new ideas.”

While these traits make a successful PR professional, it also takes some insanity to enjoy it.

Now before you disagree, understand that I’m not calling PR professionals crazy. Chances are, if you’re currently studying or practicing public relations you know exactly what I’m talking about.

After four semesters of PR coursework at The University of Alabama, it’s clear to me that many PR students have manic behaviors. Think about it: How often do these students have 15 different highlighters to use while taking notes, 12 different folders to keep papers organized or 500 “Stickies” open on the desktop of their Macs? I call PR students and professionals who exhibit these traits “PR people,” and yes, I’m a part of that group, too.

I think the obsessive-compulsive behavior we “PR people” have with organization and perfection is the reason we chose public relations. While these traits might not seem desirable at first, obsessive organization skills help make any PR job easier and more enjoyable. Public relations means staying composed even when things get out of control. Maybe this is why the field is so appealing and challenging to “PR people.” We cannot say that PR turned us into this monster, because truthfully we chose PR in order to capitalize on these “crazy” traits.

Do you agree with the description of “PR people”?
What do you think are necessary traits of a PR person?

2 Comments

  1. Allison Cook

    Victoria,
    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said PR people need a certain degree of insanity to really enjoy the work. Whereas some personalities can’t handle the pressure of the 500 stickies on their Mac desktops, I think people who truly love PR love having a PR monkey on their backs. I love to fully immerse myself in a project; when I’m on my PR game, there’s no “start” or “stop” time to my work day. But, I can’t complain because I crave the craziness and excitement of it all. I’m glad I majored in PR to take advantage of my need for an always changing work load.

    Excellent blog!

    Allison

    Reply

  2. Victoria Corley

    I agree, the intensely insane and hectic nature of the profession is why I thrive in the environment. I can’t imagine not having to multitask while juggling my time. I think this type of behavior is second nature for most PR professionals … it’s definitely not something that can be learned!
    -Victoria

    Reply

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