I put off going into the world of studying PR because I though it was an extrovert’s job and I identify more as an introvert. I remember my mum telling me one day that I would have to be more confident to go into that line of work, and while she was right in some aspects – I think I was too quick to brush off PR just because I don’t want to be social all of the time.
When you imagine someone working within PR, it is easy to picture all of the natural characteristics that go with extroverts – such as having an outgoing and friendly personality. Typically they are seen as having no problem talking to a room full of people, they can easily network with people they’ve never met before and can make cold calls.
But as public relations itself has expanded, it makes sense that the people who work within it are different from old stereotypes. There are more skills and attributes needed to work within the industry, that have nothing to do with being an extrovert. To succeed in pr you need good written communication skills, attention to detail and ability to remain calm under pressure – just to name a few.
The label of extrovert to public relations practitioners is an old stereotype, one that is outdated, and it is now time for it to be challenged and changed. The industry is so big and is always expanding, and you need a mix of personalities within an office to bounce ideas off one another. Clearly you will need a different outlook to work within communication for a charity, than for a celebrity’s personal pr.
Most recently it is widely recognised that both introverts and extroverts are valuable to public relations. It is just another example of a stereotype of PR, that needs to be addressed because it provides the wrong impression of the industry and creates a bad reputation.
Perhaps recently with the rise of research and surveys into professionals working in public relations, that focus on their mental health and any issues they find within the sector, we are more open to the fact there are a wide range of different people in the industry. It no longer matters whether you identify as an introvert or extrovert – or do people even identify by those labels anymore? If there is one thing we can learn about our current society, is that it is no longer simple to fit people into categories without noticing the complexity of people’s characteristics.
So basically, the bottom line is – if you want to study public relations, then do so.