Chloe Cumbie, Candor blog

You’ve Been Doing PR Since You Were 8 Years Old Without Knowing It

What did your typical day look like as an 8-year-old? You probably enjoyed snack time and recess. Play dates and sleepovers. Family road trips and awkward nightly dinners.

Eight year olds are less complex than their adult counterparts. But, without even knowing it, they are already beginning to form their sense of self and developing emotionally. They are learning more about their personalities and unique set of characteristics.

Eight year olds are grooming themselves to be PR professionals. Don’t laugh; it’s true.

Children build relationships, stand up for their friends, explain their opinions and answer problems. Sound familiar?

There’s a reason I joined the world of PR. Here are the characteristics that carried over from my childhood to my professional life.

Characteristics of a Public Relations Professional

The following characteristics have proven quite helpful in my professional career. They’ve stayed with me from an early age, and I’m still trying to develop them daily.

Curiosity

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One of my favorite childhood memories stems from a surprise my parents planned for my sister and me. We piled into the car and went off on an adventure, unknowing of our destination. We pulled up to a stranger’s house, went inside and met the most adorable puppy — our first family dog. I was immediately in love with her, and became incredibly curious about dogs; I wanted to know everything about them. I immediately devoured dog facts and read countless books. I even studied to become a veterinarian.

Even though my dreams of becoming a veterinarian didn’t exactly play out, my curiosity and thirst to learn has been crucial to my role today. When I get a new client, I can’t wait to learn as much as I can about their industry, competitors, what really makes them tick and more.

Curiosity leads to creativity.

Creativity

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Imagine one of your daily struggles… how would a child fix it? Kids are fueled by curiosity, creativity and freedom.

As a child, I was a self-defined expert at papier-mâché. I didn’t limit the items I would glue and newspaper together, to my parents’ dismay. While (most) parents set boundaries, kids aren’t confined to as many rules as adults. Their minds wander freely to create, discover and problem-solve.

Creativity is used daily in public relations. Whether providing reputation management, crafting a news release or brainstorming with co-workers, thinking creatively is a basic requirement to a successful public relations career.

Flexibility

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As all adults are aware, no matter how carefully things are planned, life is always going to throw a curveball. This is where children have the upper-hand. Instead of stressing over the thought of change, kids are more willing to adapt to new situations and circumstances.

I remember playing games with a friend who would consistently change the rules. It was almost like rule-changing was a game within our games. Instead of becoming frustrated, I had no problem adapting to the new way of doing things.

Being flexible is critical when working with brands and the media. You can’t always predict the weather, and you never know when a client might change their mind about something at the last minute. Your most detailed plan can quickly change on a dime. Flexibility is a must.

Clarity

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When I was young, I was… I had a friend who was notorious for talking in circles when asking for what she wanted. She consistently would leave our teacher in a state of confusion. I always felt it was my job to clarify what she meant.  I learned early on how important it is to speak clearly to get desired results or actions.

Too often, people get upset over something they simply misunderstand. Communicating clearly is necessary in any profession, but especially in public relations. Reporters don’t have time to make sense of incoherent rants. Pitches must be tight to sell your clients in a way that’s interesting and concise.

Empathy

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Growing up, when I would witness a classmate embarrassing another student, I would immediately redden and feel horrible. Admittedly, my empathy levels are to the extreme, which isn’t ideal in all cases. However, it has served me well as an account executive when dealing with clients and the media.

It’s important to take the time to understand where people are coming from, what their business means to them and what struggles they’re facing. Being empathetic has also taught me to be open to opposing viewpoints, which comes in handy when working for a nonpartisan firm. Empathy lends itself to patience, good listening skills and personable traits — all of which are necessary for PR professionals.

Finessing Inherent Skills for a PR Career

While these characteristics put you on the right track to becoming a PR star, it’s important to continue to develop as a professional.

Candor employees are active in a number of organizations, like Public Relations Society of America; continue to earn accreditations, like an APR; and serve on public relations committees where they continue to learn from their peers.

Do you have a public relations need? Candor would love to hear from you!