I’m hormonal AF, I’ve eaten badly these past two days (try six hobnobs, a heavily seasoned popcorn from Junction, two sticks of Twix and a packet of mabuyu balls aka the snack of the future – in addition to my other three meals of the day), I feel like a bloated whale (probably because of the aforementioned), and I’m suffering from mental exhaustion. But who cares? I’m in PR! So I’ll relate to the public like I’m all sunflowers and rainbows because that is essentially what we in PR do even when things are more like thorns and storms.
Let me tell you something nobody told me when I got into PR: that I would have to watch my tongue, kiss ass, placate, kiss ass, smile even when I don’t feel like it, kiss ass, perform magic, kiss ass, read a thousand emails, kiss ass, attend never ending meetings, kiss ass, look interested in the most snooze-inducing sh*t, kiss ass, learn to use excel, kiss ass, learn to do actual budgeting beyond how not to be dirt broke at the end of the month and still buy stuff I don’t need and go out when I don’t need to, and still kiss the damn ass! Oh, and it’s not just the clients I have to do this for, I then have to turn around and do it to journalists and bloggers as well…doesn’t matter that these are my former colleagues, sheesh!
Now, I got into PR because I had quit my TV job without a game plan, and figured I’d just be writing a few releases and going for parties, looking fabulous, and hobnobbing with the who’s who in this town (and perhaps even abroad). I was dead wrong. So wrong, it’s almost funny. Tragic actually.
A pal of mine thinks all PR chicks do is just walk around in their ridiculously high heels and tight skirts, smile like air heads and generally prevent journalists from speaking to their clients. Truth is, I’m one of those chicks who has worn/wears ridiculously high heels and tight skirts (heck, even dresses) to work. But I only do that so I can tower above some people (I have a height complex) and be so focused on breathing because my circulation is being cut off, that I can’t afford to huff and puff in anger and that way I have to keep calm.
This is what many conversations about my job go like:
Person X: Hi! How are you? So nice to see you.
Me: Nice to see you too…
Person X: You left TV right?
Me: Yes. Almost two years ago now
Person X: Really? Two years? Wow! Time really flies! I was sure I saw you reporting in December last year!
Me: Umm no, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t me…
Person X: Oh, alright. So what are you doing now?
Me: I’m in PR now
Person X: Oh…PR?
Person X: So what exactly is that?
Me: Public Relations. That’s what PR stands for. It’s a really short acronym…
Person X: Oh I know what it stands for…but what do you actually do?
Me: I help manage companies’ reputations.
Person X: So you’re the guys who lie for companies?
Me: Not really… I think those would be lawyers *attempts lame laugh*
Person X: (who didn’t laugh) Alright…but you’re basically the ones who come out to defend companies when they steal money, sell expired products, mistreat their employees…generally lie
Me: Wow, you’re really angry huh…anyway, have you tried the dessert? It’s amazing! *saunters off to the dessert table for yet another helping”
In the beginning I struggled to explain what I did beyond saying I managed companies’ reputations, until I found out that if I just told people to Google it while laughing to make it sound like a joke but being dead serious, then I could get away with not having to explain PR to every damn person.
Now though, what really angers me is clients who pay for PR but don’t know what PR entails. Seriously. You see in PR, there’s something called “client service,” which I’ve come to learn is not only about ensuring that client’s work is done well and on time, but that they feel loved, respected, revered, worshipped, pampered, etc all at the same damn time. Takes a hero to do that if you ask me.
I mean, all I want is you to do is approve the blessed press release, but can I say it like that in an email? No! I have to say it like this:
I hope you’re well. Just a kind reminder that we need you to approve the press release I shared three weeks ago. As you know the event is tomorrow, and we would much rather have everything ready in time so we don’t suffer the last minute rush.
We remain committed to delivering above and beyond your expectations, and look forward to your prompt feedback.
Pretty fake if you ask me, and I ain’t about that life. I’m all about expressing myself (kind of like how Solange expressed herself to Jay-zed in the lift while Beyonz watched), and this email does not allow me to do that. It’s frustrating I tell you. The number of times I write kindly, please, regards, await and kind reminder in a day should not be allowed. There should be a cap on that, which allows you to be yourself on email once the daily word limit is surpassed.
Be honest, wouldn’t you appreciate an email with character if you were a client? Perhaps something like:
For real man, what’s up with that press release? I sent it like three weeks ago and you’ve not said a damn thing. This event was not a surprise seeing as you briefed it in a month ago so why you acting like it was? Haya basi, I’ve done my bit. If you don’t approve it before the event we cannot send it out and if this happens then we don’t get any coverage. So if you want to keep hugging it go ahead, lakini pia utajitafutia hiyo coverage. And that budget you’ve nyimad us for this event is another story. iKent.
Holding you in less regard,
Isn’t honesty refreshing? I’ve already felt better just writing that…perhaps I should start writing such emails (addressed to no-one in particular of course) just to release some steam.
Ok I need to go shower now so I can come back and watch Scandal because you know what? My attitude today is like:
Oh, and so you have an idea what PR is really like: