I’m John and I’m having an identity crisis.
That feels better.
Seriously though, when did we all become so obsessed with our ‘PR types’? Just because the majority of my clients work (in some cases quite loosely) within the technology space does that mean my skills and experience are completely redundant outside that arena?
I’d like to think not. In fact, I’ve been fortunate enough to work in an agency that actively embraces putting together teams of people with a range of experience from across different sectors.
At this very moment I’m working with my ‘consumer’, ‘corporate’ and ‘tech’ colleagues on a start-up client. Each individual brings a truly valuable set of skills to the table, everyone understands the objectives we have to hit and collectively we’re the best possible team for the client.
If we’d gone in to the pitch with a ‘tech team’ just because the client is a start-up operating in the digital space, then we may have struggled.
I guess the addiction to pigeonholing ourselves is a hangover from the days when PR meant media relations and that was it. Of course my contacts within the tech press are stronger than the underwater basket weaving press, but that doesn’t make me useless to the CEO of Better Baskets who has a reputation challenge that they want to address.
The problem is that pigeonholing starts early on in the PR career. As an AE, most of your time is spent on the frontline of media relations. Depending on your first job (usually chosen based on salary rather than a yearning passion for a particular PR ‘type’ –does anyone have a burning desire to be a ‘B2B tech PR specialising in semi-conductors’ straight out of uni?) you’re going to fall into one of the ‘PR type’ camps and spend your early years dealing exclusively with a particular set of press.
I guess the onus then, is on agencies to instil, early on, an understanding that media relations is just a single channel of effective audience engagement and communications in order to develop juniors into well rounded PR professionals and encourage staff to think creatively outside their given market boundaries.
On the other hand, specialism is good in certain circumstances and gives some people a warm fuzzy feeling that they are in capable hands. But specialism also tends to be driven by personal interest and research – lots of the strategic skills remain transferable.
Maybe I should just get back in my box and accept who I am?
John Brown, the tech PR professional.
Nah, just doesn’t feel right. Back to therapy.