Despite what Absolutely Fabulous may have led you to believe, being a publicist is not all champagne and fashion shows (although admittedly, there is some of that). As a communications professional, we spend most of our time researching, planning, talking, pitching, strategising, writing, briefing, networking and reporting – while the reality may not be as glamorous as the job title suggests, it’s undoubtedly a labour of love.
Based on real-life conversations and scenarios, here are seven things we wish family and friends could understand about communications professionals:
1. “How can you possibly send that many emails in one day?”
When I say I sent 300 emails today, I’m not being dramatic. As a communications professional, the majority of my day is spent madly drafting, reviewing or responding to emails.
2. “Have you had a bad day, or something?”
Housemate PSA: If I come home after a long day and shut myself in my room, please don’t take offence. I’ve spent 98 per cent of my day talking to people – at the coffee shop, on the phone, at a meeting, at a brainstorm, at another meeting, at the supermarket. Sometimes we just need a little ‘me time’ to wind down our minds.
3. “You work 9 – 5, why are you answering emails at home!?”
I won’t lie, being a publicist is not for those afraid of hard work. Whether it’s responding to client queries, liaising with international contacts in different time zones, dealing with a crisis, or just getting through a heck of a lot of work, sometimes a bit of after-hours action is required to get the job done. Plus, when you love what you do, you don’t mind an email or two creeping into your personal time.
4. ‘I swear all you do is go to coffee and drink champagne at events.”
Sure, we spend a bit of time at coffee shops, attend a few networking events and to go to launches or client functions, but for comms professionals, that’s working. More often than not, we’ve spent months organising that event, worked late to assemble the gift bags and set up the media wall in bare feet at midnight (guilty). Networking events are a great way to make connections – new clients, journalists or just really interesting people. And yes, sometimes we take our meetings to a coffee shop, because meetings are 286 per cent better with caffeine… obviously.
5. “How do you make conversation with so many people?”
This is definitely one of the biggest perks of being in communications – you learn to make (and enjoy) conversations with pretty much everyone. Whether it’s asking a million questions about an interesting topic that’s been brought up, gabbing about shared interests, or you just ‘click’ with that person, chatting away for hours at a networking event or a weekend party becomes a breeze when it’s what you do all day, every day.
6. “You are SO busy all the time – how do you fit it all in?”
The ability to juggle multiple things at the same time is the most valuable tool in any communications pro’s kit. While waking up at 5am for a gym class, working a full day, having a drink at a client function, then meeting friends for dinner might seem like a lot to fit into one day, it’s pretty much second nature to us.
7. “Are you alive?”
If we don’t reply to your text message or email right away, we’re not ignoring you…we promise! It’s likely we’ve been talking on our landline while responding to an email and completely forgot, or are headphones-in, deep into drafting a media release and cannot be disturbed. Us PR pros are a reliable bunch, so rest assured we’ll reply if it’s urgent, eventually (and then go MIA again for four hours). Sorry!
So next time you’re wondering why you haven’t seen or heard from me in days, complaining that I’m going to yet another function, or grilling me for answering a few emails after 5pm, remember…it’s my job!