Confidence and Empathy: Two Treasures of a PR Personality

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Posted At: April 4, 2012 2:00 PM
by Margaret Bishop

In a recent article featured by PR Daily, Beth Monaghan highlighted two essential traits that PR practitioners need to be successful: confidence and empathy. After reading the article, I debated on what qualities I possessed that have served me most throughout my PR internship and job experiences. Not surprisingly, there were two that really stuck out: confidence and empathy.

Confidence could be argued as the most critical quality in a PR professional. In order to be successful in representing your client, you must be dauntless in the mission and purpose of your client. This confidence cannot be fabricated — sincerity is a must.

Prosperous PR practitioners have shown us that taking risks is not only a necessary action, but an art form. Being confident in risk-taking can be the difference in a tremendous breakthrough or an epic fail. PR professionals have to know which risks are worth taking and which risks may take you.

When speaking on behalf of your client or employer, confidence is key. Distinguished public speakers know that being able to speak well and confidently is essential.

Empathy is a little more complex, but equally as imperative. Empathy has been present in every interview, media call and networking event I have participated in. Empathy is described as being able to relate to another’s feelings, experiences, beliefs, etc. — which could be considered similar to creating rapport.

As PR professionals, we are already aware of the significance of creating rapport with potential employers, clients and media contacts. Therefore, creating shared empathy with these individuals is an absolute must.

Though the importance of empathy is obvious, remember a crucial point: there is a huge difference between empathy and sympathy. You can be understanding without going overboard.

When sympathy takes over, your judgment may be hindered and cause you to do something you may not normally do — such as go over budget or make an unethical decision. Be sure to use your aforementioned confidence and stay on the correct path.

Though the best PR professionals have a plethora of strong qualities, these two are clearly distinct. Sharpening your confidence and empathy skills can help you to be a PR practitioner who truly shines.

2 Comments

  1. Katie Sanders

    I am currently a sophomore majoring in public relations. This article caught my eye because it explains the many roles that public relations practitioners must fill. The profession is often associated with “spinning stories” to the public, but many people do not realize what a public relations practitioner really does. The field involves more than writing press releases or giving speeches on behalf of your client. One must be the counselor or even confidant in some circumstances.

    I believe that this article does an excellent job of elaborating on the public relations practitioner’s role of counselor. A person who remains confident and positive will be a more effective representative. I also like how the difference between empathy and sympathy is explained. The line of professionalism is drawn between the two. The most successful public relations campaigns and work deal only with empathy because one’s judgement is not clouded by emotions.

    Overall, this article reveals another side of the field of public relations beyond the media releases, communication campaign and events. Great work Platform! I will definitely keep these two traits in mind for my future career and work on behalf of clients.

    Reply

  2. Leighton Brown

    I really enjoyed reading your article. As I am about to enter the work world finding a future boss who has the qualities of confidence and empathy is important to me. My experiences have given me the opportunity to work with great professionals. They are the ones who exude confidence and empathy, and they are the ones that I aspire to be one day. I have also experienced professionals that do not have qualities of confidence and empathy. I found that I had a better work experience and formed better relationships with the professionals who were confident, direct and approachable. My negative experiences came from the professionals that were not confident with themselves, their employees and their company. Personally, I agree with you. It is important to be confident in yourself and your job. It is also important to be approachable and direct at the same time. In order to be the best PR professional we can be it is important to exercise these qualities not just in our professional life, but also in our personal life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Leighton Brown

    Reply

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