Not “just a PR professional”

Stacked pilesof cowboy hatsWe all wear multiple hats as PR professionals. Thinking about adding some new “roles” to your resume to show off your experience? Here are some to consider (and to be taken lightly):

  • Therapist

Hand-holding just comes with the territory. Whether it be calming a client down about a less-than-glowing article written about his or her company, or consoling a stressed out co-worker, we give our fair share of “therapy.” I joke that I should have double majored in PR and psychology.

  • Janitor

We clean up the mess. When things go awry and no one can keep it together, PR professionals are there to clean up after whatever has gone wrong.

  • Disciplinarian

“You! Go sit in the corner. You’re in time-out.” Ever had a client who just said the “wrong” thing? Dropped an expletive in the middle of a live television interview? Bad kitteh. You get a slap on the wrist from your PR department for that.

  • Investigator

To find the juicy pieces of information to make up a good story which can ultimately craft a great pitch, we need to do a little digging. From speaking with the client, to doing research and background work, we are the investigators trying to find the best points to highlight the best our clients have to offer.

  • Spokesperson

It’s a given. At some point in our PR careers, we will serve as the spokesperson for a brand, client or our own company.

  • Chef

Similar to being an investigator, we also play chef. Putting together the tastiest ingredients in the right amount can make a great dish…more accurately in our profession, a great story.

  • Teacher

Guidance and education is a major part of our job. Sometimes we have to explain to a client that his child getting an ‘A’ on his history test isn’t worthy of the front page of the New York Times. We are also employed to help guide the brand message of our clients to keep messaging consistent.

  • Master Networker

One of my favorite parts of my job is business development. Going out and getting in front of fellow business people, telling them about my company and what we do, and potentially bringing them in as a client has given me some stellar and invaluable networking experience.

What else can we add here? Chime in if you are not “just a PR professional.”

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  • KDMisevich

    I would add magician to this list. Anyone else feel like they have to pull off the impossible and make it look like you did it effortlessly?

  • klintbriney

    In professional auto racing, we also sit in the race car while the crew members practice pit stops. We sit in the car and hold the brake as the driver is typically maxed out on extra time in their schedule. This is sometimes a welcome change and entertaining especially when you're sitting in pit lane at the Indy 500, the world's largest sporting event.

  • mikeschaffer

    Some roles to add to this excellent list: financial advisor, babysitter (in every meaning of the word), miracle worker, marital/parenting counselor, mascot (yes, mascot), speech writer, photographer, medicine cabinet (I fondly remember the time I carried Pepto Bismol for a celebrity) and chauffeur.

    Plus, there was the time I climbed up a 100-ft rope ladder while wearing a full suit to make sure a camera crew got footage of SOMEONE riding a zipline.

    Oh…and the time I was offered something…er…someone…who worked for a minor celebrity associated with a major star. (I declined…add “Moral Compass” to the list!)

  • Excellent list! I would add something like defense attorney, cause I always seem to be defending the value of PR.

  • Don Jennings

    Excellent post. Only two that come to mind that haven't already been mentioned are English teacher (no, that's not a word!) and Cheerleader.

  • Ha! Yes! To add to that in a way: (say it with me) “Shoot, I forgot my crystal ball at home today.”

  • That is commitment!

  • Hmmm, I'm thinking of the role of “supervisor to your life” would be one I'm slapped with every once a while.

  • jeffespo

    Mike you have those?

  • jeffespo

    I would like to add hot dog/sunflower seed gopher and second Mike's mascot act. Ask me about being a duck.

    Overall this is a solid list of hats we all wear.

  • mikeschaffer

    Obviously, the “offer” can't be described on such a fragile place as the Internet.

  • jeffespo

    I am going to have to pester you about that….

  • Boys – keep this space clean. I'm talking to you Jeff. Stop egging Mike on.

  • This is awesome! I'm working on a similar post about how PR students are capable of so much more than just PR because of the skills we acquire in school. PR is a great degree to use as a foundation to tailor a resume to any number of opportunities in this tough job market, making it that much easier for us to apply or education and succeed. My favorite skill mentioned here: Chef 🙂

  • This is awesome! I'm working on a similar post about how PR students are capable of so much more than just PR because of the skills we acquire in school. PR is a great degree to use as a foundation to tailor a resume to any number of opportunities in this tough job market, making it that much easier for us to apply our (oops, typo) education and succeed. My favorite skill mentioned here: Chef 🙂

  • That's why I'm “3Hats Communications.” One of my clients even remarked that I actually wear more hats than that, but yeah.

  • So many good ones here. One big one I'll add is firefighter or crisis manager. Some others: designer, webmaster, meeting planner, sounding board, editor, “bad cop” or the one who has to say no, point out what's not a good idea or a real story and speak truth to power. Heck when I worked the 1996 was also a crossing guard, posted yard signs, all sorts of things.

    On the flip side, I always say that anyone who deals with customers, vendors, key publics also wears the PR hat, regardless of job title. FWIW.

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  • As a crisis counselor, I'm often the “paid pessimist.” I'm often tapped to see if company initiatives or promotions won't pass the “sniff test” against the public's expectations.

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  • bobbatchelor_ksu

    Great post! “Therapist” really resonates with me. I would emphasize the role communicators play in managing “culture,” whether that is keeping the troops together during difficult times or (clandestinely) helping a co-worker spiff up their resume if it's time to go.

    I've been talking to my students about these extra jobs communicators hold quite a bit over the years. I tell them that they have to be “the smartest person in the room,” because of all these “hats.” No one else — outside the CEO/Chairman — really has this much responsibility.

    The notion sits well with students and helps build their confidence.

  • Carmela08

    Although I enjoyed your column, I make a plea to all PR professionals to please stop using the cliched phrase “wears many hats.” The first two items on PR Daily that I read today use this phrase. This column and the announcement about a new contributor: “Jackson Wightman wears a number of communications hats.” This really upsets my stomach.

  • I would add “stand-up comic” to the list. Sometimes PR meetings with clients can get tense. (Really??) Having a good sense of humor helps.

  • Carmela, you're right. We'll watch our usage.

    Michael Sebastian
    PR Daily

  • Great blog post. I shared it with my entire PR team today. Keep up the great posts.

    MMI Public Relations
    Raleigh, NC


  • My apologies. I offer you some Pepto and in the next instance I want to use the cliched expression, as a pageant queen, I will say “wears many crowns.” Thanks for your comment.

  • CarolV

    Hmmm, how about…Creative Director/Executive Producer/Set Designer for video shoots/tv? Translator to help client/other spokespeople learn to speak without jargon, speak clearly and in sound bites for interviews? Juggler to multitask all the time with all those projects? Fed Ex Delivery person for delivering all on time? This is fun 🙂

  • bonniehackbarth

    Statistician! ROI is important to clients and we often help parse the statistics to understand whether what we're doing is working and how to tweak it to make it even more effective.

  • keithtrivitt

    Re: Being a mascot while working in PR. Yep. Been there, done that. Not a whole hell of a lot of fun, but interesting to say the least!

    I was Banana Man! one summer while interning in minor league baseball. Long story …

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  • Public relations has always been about going where the conversation is and adding value to it. Today, it’s no longer just newspapers and magazines. It’s also of course Twitter. Here are some tools that I advise our teams and clients at Edelman to use.

  • This column and the announcement about a new contributor

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