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PR is not the place for a broken watch

by Amber Parker

Whether you are backstage at a Britney Spears concert, working on a press release from the White House or planning a consumer extravaganza at an agency, you will always have to be conscious of time. Timing is important in most careers, but poor planning on the part of a public relations practitioner could be as detrimental as a doctor who shows up late for surgery. It could mean the difference between the life and death of a company.

Do not miss a deadline

The quickest way to disappoint a new employer, or worse, a client, is by missing a deadline. The only thing you have in common with your co-workers is that 12 p.m. means 12 p.m. no matter how you slice it. In college, late assignments usually mean a percentage reduction from your grade but in the cut-throat world of PR, a missed deadline could mean your livelihood.

You may be thinking, “Do they expect me to be perfect right out of college?” The answer is no, but promptness and accuracy are prized qualities in this field, so learn them quickly. Not to mention that there is always an intern or new hire who will succeed in the areas that you are lacking. Don’t minor in the majors — learn time management now.

Environmental scanning

Professors have pushed me to read the news since my first communications class and now, as a senior, I scan at least three different sources daily as a part of my morning routine. As a practitioner, scanning helps to keep you up to date on any changes that might affect your client directly or indirectly. Accurate forecasting can help give you and your agency a cutting edge.

I assume that everyone who has a degree in public relations took journalism courses in college. You may have thought it was pointless at the time but I hope that one thing you took away is a clear understanding of news values.

Public relations practitioners have to be conscious of their relationships with journalists and try to ensure they are providing the best information to the right person within the most feasible time frame. A story about breast cancer in March, for example, is less appealing than one in October because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you respect punctuality and planning as virtues, you can buckle up and prepare for a successful career in PR.


  1. Post comment

    In such a fast paced industry like PR, being on time is crucial. It is such a simple way to convey professionalism and it never ceases to amaze me when people fail to grasp this concept.

    Being tardy is not only an inconvenience for whoever you are meeting, but it is also downright disrespectful. It sends the message that you could not be bothered to respect anyone else’s time but your own.

    It is also very important to be on time all the time. Employers want people who are dependable and part of being dependable, is being punctual. Being on time is so important in PR because it is a business based on presenting yourself in the best way possible and being late is a surefire way to secure a bad reputation.

  2. Post comment

    Thank you for sharing about punctuality in PR! I think that the importance being on time is something people vastly underestimate.

    As college students, I think it is important for us to start practicing punctuality now. I try to get to meetings and appointments at least 15 minutes early. There is always a chance that things could be running ahead of schedule, and I want to be ready for any circumstances. The skills we practice now are what we will carry with us into the professional world.

    Aside from putting your job at risk, being late sends a message of apathy and unprofessionalism. That is certainly not the image we want for ourselves as PR professionals!

    Thank you for the reminder of the importance of punctuality!


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