Public Relations 101: More than just rainbows and sunshine

What first comes to your mind if I say Public Relations?

Extravagant. All-talk. Frivolous. Petty. Showy. Empty-headed.
Believe me, I’ve heard it all so often—even from my own family.

While we can go all night long discussing the general view of PR, I can assure you that 9/10 of them would take form in negative sentiments. The real question is, however, is PR really that bad of an industry?

My three-months internship period at Zeno Indonesia, a PR agency of Zeno Group, Edelman’s sister company, taught me to see things from the other side of the mirror. Though it might seem, say, frivolous, from an outsider’s point of view, both PR’s daily work amount and ethics are not to be taken lightly. The people I’ve aquainted with during my internship period are also some of the most hardworking people I’ve met so far. I had been jumping from one industry to another for several years now, networked with some of the best people in their fields, and all I can say is that, compared to many others, PR puts a significant amount of pressure on the professionals. It is not all rainbows and sunshine.

The working demand alone can be can be considered as overwhelming. Above all else, a PR practicioner must have the ability and agility to juggle an amount of different sets of clients, handling numerous projects or retainer-based campaigns in the process. The working hours are limitless—you must monitor the clients’ progress constantly while  dismissing your personal needs outside of the office. When clients call, no matter the hours, you have to get the job done.

Many professionals say that PR people live for their work 24/7. I used to think that it was because of the significant amount of works and bad company culture, yet later found out that it is not necessarily the case. Many companies had established WLB principles and highly suggest their employee to only work in working days, though overtime still cannot be avoided. It was because of the people. Almost all of the people I’ve met in the industry have this certain drive about their work, a subtle hint of passion mixed with excitement and professionalism. They love their job and continue to strive for the best.

The industry and its people are proven to have an amazing level of work ethics and that can-do attitude to get the job done. That fact alone attracts me to this industry a few years ago. Those PR people never goes for good enough—always putting their outmost effort in any given task, no matter how simple or complicated it seemingly is. It is a field filled with highly passionate, creative, hard-working people with exceptional work ethics. This high level of ethics is what makes PR stands out among other industries. They absolutely cannot slack-off, or else the clients will run off. Mistakes are intolerable.

I believe I also need to point out that PR works are not dumb or frivolous no matter how it may seem from the outside. I never believe on textbook-smart kind of people, and so, for me, intelligence comes from a person’s capability to analyze problems, provide solutions, holding discussions, and any of the like. It comes from minds open enough to welcome new knowledge, a sense of curiosity, and humbleness to learn and notice a thing or two from other people. A PR professional must be proficient in learning different industries altogether, conducting researches, planning and executing projects, networking, monitoring and evaluating campaigns, writing and editing releases, organizing, and many others on a daily basis while maintaining high level quality for their clients. I see it as a balanced combination between every type of intelligence.

The industry is great, yet so many people keep mistaking PR as some sort of hosting industry where all we have to do is smile and greet people. It might be due to the fact that PR professionals are so busy in maintaining the reputation of their clients that they began to forget to build the industry’s image. The fact that most professionals portray themselves as a fun-loving laid back people in their circle might contribute as well. They might seem to party hard, but the fact is that they work even harder to enjoy the lifestyle. You know what they say—work hard, play hard!

I fell in love with the industry because I feel like finally meeting a set of people who can truly get me—always strive for the best no matter the circumstances, highly professional yet socially sensible, and have that alluring contrasting flair in them which can be switched on or off depending on the situation. I love the fact that working hard here does not mean dead and robot-like, but instead extremely lively and creative to the core. This proves that you can work and have fun at the same time. Life is short, work somewhere awesome!

Lintang Cahyaningsih

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