How being a parent can improve your PR skill set
I just googled ‘which career fits best with being a parent?’ and lo and behold, working in PR is right up there! Flexible working and creating your own schedule are possible in many PR roles. However, I have discovered that the desired skill set PR agencies look for in recruits is closely aligned with some of the personal attributes parents need to possess when coping with small children.
Does parenting make you good at PR?
If you’ve got a family and are considering a career in PR, or returning to PR after maternity or paternity leave, you may be better qualified now for the job than you realise! There are many skills that parents develop or hone that they may not have focused on previously. Here are five desirable parenting qualities which PR agencies also look for in PR job candidates.
If you’re not organised, you will forget that all-important birthday party invitation, packed lunch for the school trip or favourite bedtime toy when staying overnight somewhere. Having children teaches you to be organised; you will soon realise you’ll never be able to leave the house if you aren’t.
It’s exactly the same in PR. You need to be good at organising yourself, your team and your clients so that the meetings, presentations, press events and product launches that you are responsible for happen and go according to plan. Clients expect you to manage them efficiently and be on top of your workload. Therefore, excellent organisational and time management skills are crucial if you’re going to cope with the multiple pressures and deadlines you’ll come up against in PR.
Communication, communication, communication!
If you’re anything like me, you might actually prefer dealing with a hard-to-please editor than trying to tell your five-year-old it is bedtime already! Kids don’t want to do things just because a parent tells them to. We must be able to explain in a way they understand and make our expectations clear. When talking to a child about a problem, we need to describe it and express our feelings so that they see where we’re coming from. Giving choices, making suggestions (and being open to receiving them too) will go a long way towards getting your point across. And there’s never a guarantee it’ll work first time either!
If you’re an effective communicator, then you’ll stand a good chance in PR. Your communication skills will be the first thing an employer asks you about as this is a must-have. You are responsible for building a rapport with your client and their target audiences to explain, summarise and provide information that provokes a response or action. You must be able to adapt what you say and how you say it to effectively communicate with your audience. In short, PR professionals must be exceptional at nurturing and developing trusting relationships through active listening which is exactly what most parents are also striving to do.
Creativity is the name of the game
This is a conversation I have had with my five-year-old more times than I can remember:
“How about some spinach with your meal?”
“Well, how about some diplodocus leaves then, like the dinosaurs used to munch? Mmmmmm!”
“Yes! I want diplodocus leaves!”
If you have ever had a similar conversation, the chances are you have some creative skills up your sleeve when you want your kids to try something. You have learnt to come up with ways to cajole and convince through storytelling, playacting, pretending or just not taking life with a small child too seriously. PR might be a good fit as a career! Creativity wins PR pitches and gives you a competitive edge. With creativity, you can take a small budget and make a big impression. By being creative, you will find solutions, get your idea across, and can be able to tell a story in a new and interesting way.
Honesty is the best policy
As parents, we want our children to be honest with us. We can encourage this by modelling the behaviour we want them to copy such as having open conversations (about anything!) and owning up when things go wrong. Of course, this will completely backfire on you occasionally; your kids will at some point exclaim loudly that they don’t like how Granny smells or tell your spouse that they saw you eating their birthday chocolate!
Honesty is a very important quality in PR too which is why it’s one of our core values at EC-PR. If a brand isn’t honest when telling its story, then it’ll be called out. Most people will remember the Nestle baby milk scandal as an example of this. If you’re caught out in a lie, trying to cover that up will not go down well – and social media can make sure that the bad feeling towards you goes global. It is up to you to insist that clients are honest in their communications.
Honesty is also necessary for successful account management and goes hand in hand with the confidence to express your opinion. PR account directors and managers must act honestly by challenging budgets that won’t work, being transparent about campaign delivery outcomes and speaking up if they disagree with the strategy behind a campaign.
Resilience is not a cliche
Parenting is hard work: bedtime tears and toddler tantrums are tiring; waving your child off on their first day of school is emotional; hearing your child say they were left out of a game gives you heartache. But, recognising how these experiences make you feel and realising that you cannot shield your child from every hurt builds your resilience. People who learn to cope with the stresses of everyday life and accept the occasional crisis have resilience. Kids teach you (ok, they force you) to have the flexibility and inner strength to cope when things are not going the way you want. You become resilient because you know that the way you approach adversity will in turn affect your child’s attitude towards hardships and impact their own resilience.
A thick skin is required in PR as you’re responsible for your client’s reputation. You will need resilience to bounce back from failure. There will always be a campaign that doesn’t go quite as expected or a press release that gets a bad reaction – perhaps for reasons outside your control. At this point, you will need to be able to speak to your client and take criticism from the media. You must be able to take failure on the chin and learn from your mistakes because there will be times when things don’t go according to plan.
If I had to name a sixth desirable parenting and PR quality, then I reckon a good sense of humour is essential in both roles! None of us take life too seriously at EC-PR and we all enjoy our regular social events – both in person and virtually. If you’re considering a PR career move then check our current vacancies and consider coming to join our cheerful team.
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