From my experience, personal habits cultivate by professionals are either healthy ones or negative habits that can influence the success or productivity of any professionals. public Relations (PR) is perhaps one of the most interesting and engaging careers there is today, its dynamic and fast-paced nature make it so. If one is to succeed in any of the various aspects of PR practice, then it quickly becomes obvious that being “always on the move” is what characterizes the daily life of a PR practitioner.
Even when a person is not at the office desk nor on the phone, nor at a client’s location on a regular workday, the mind remains ever-busy thinking about the next set of things to do. It does not take long at all for a new entrant into the profession to know that in PR, there is no work and life, life is work and work is life.
From landing a brief, to executing and closing out on it, to managing client relations, to running an agency, to pursuing professional growth; there can be almost no let-your-hair-down period for a person. For instance, this article is being written at 3:00 am during the global Coronavirus social-distancing period where working from home for days now, a most unpalatable option in my country is what almost everyone is constrained to cope with.
A PR practitioner intending to lead a successful career cannot be passive, but must really love the job and be emotionally invested in it. There is no room to do things half-heartedly otherwise daily frustrations and burnout will be the consequences. Successful PR practice requires technical skills as well as non-technical skills/ personal habits of the practitioner to be a reality.
This article focuses on the person, and his/ her personal habits, because that is the precursor for success, as having technical skills without personal finesse, will ultimately show up in form of crudeness at the workplace which will erode the much-needed likeability and confidence that a person needs colleagues and clients to repose in them for professional success to be a reality,
Here are my 5 selected & recommended personal habits of successful PR professionals:
- Learn to Write things down:
The need to carry a notepad and pen around for every day & anytime writing is basic and non-negotiable for a PR professional. Whether at internal and external meetings or just during the course of work, you will have to write constantly for effective task management and to de congest a usually cluttered head holding too much information. In order to not drop the ball and let things slip, you must have a writing culture. Writing aids remembrance, planning and productivity. It helps you rank your priorities and attend to them accordingly. You cannot afford to just pile things up in your head; it is the surest way to forgetfulness and clumsiness at work. Writing is one of the easiest ways to show that you take your work seriously and it also makes colleagues and clients reckon you to be a serious person.
- Have a Routine and Manage Time effectively:
More often than not as a PR person, you will feel like you need more than 24hours per day and that the time you have every day is just never enough to work and also catch up on personal affairs. This is not an unusual feeling; it comes with the busyness and fast pace of the job. Truthfully, you will spend more hours at work every day/ week but by keeping a routine and effective time management especially during weekends, you can lead a healthy professional and personal life. This means that it is important to know what to give priority to and do per time because your hours must be properly apportioned so that they can be tracked and wastage is eliminated. So plan your day, week and month ahead. What hours of the day are for work? What hours of the day are spent commuting to and from work? What time is for break at work? What time do you have to catch up on personal affairs after official work hours? What time is for rest and sleep at the end of each day? What do you do with your weekends?
- Be a Reader and Learner:
A person in PR must know things. You just must know things and be current. No knowledge is unimportant and so you must have a vast mind. This means that reading and learning go without saying, because to be resourceful to colleagues and clients, you must have information at your fingertips when needed. You will not always have the time and means to “Google it” so being knowledgeable is such an asset. Not only does it enhance your personal brand, but it will prove tremendously useful during the course of work particularly at internal and external brainstorming sessions where everyone is drawing from the reserve of knowledge and you definitely don’t want to be the quiet onlooker in the room thereby running the risk of being perceived as unneeded.
- Commit to Professional Development personally:
Professional development is as much an individual’s responsibility as personal development is. Developing oneself professionally cannot always be at the instance of the employer because true commitment to excellent work automatically places responsibility on a person to identify gaps (within his/ her knowledge, , delivery) and proceed with taking steps to fill them. From bagging degrees & certifications to taking online courses, to joining professional bodies, to learning to masterfully use old and new tools, to reading more; a PR person can grow in so many ways and not all of these are costly as many are indeed free but even when financial commitments have to be made, an individual is the greatest beneficiary of his/ her growth.
- Cultivate Professional Relationships:
Nobody becomes his or her best in isolation and it takes exposure to know what more there is to reach for. A PR practitioner without great professional relationships will be significantly limited in vision and resources. Rather than viewing others outside of your constituency through the eyes of competition alone, it is better to build bridges and networks in order to cultivate relationships that are facilitators of professional excellence and growth. Having friends across different sectors of PR can prove to be extremely helpful at times when information, counsel and materials outside of your area needed urgently. It helps to always have people to call on at such times. In addition, great business partnerships and collaborations can be forged when one has great professional relationships.