The media can be informative, but the media can also be deceiving. Ever since I was a wee lass, I have always been told not to believe everything I read or see; be critical, and do not take everything so literally. Unfortunately, the Hollywood bug had bitten at a young age, and boy did it ever sink its teeth into me. Glamour to the right; lavish lifestyles to the left. Everywhere I looked, there was some kind of celebrity or rising starlet who caught my eye.
After years of watching Sex and the City, idolizing the lives of the four women, one of the characters drastically stood out to me; Samantha Jones. She owns her own Public Relations company, rubs elbows with the best of the best in New York City, throws first class parties and attends her fair share of them. She knows all the best hot spots in the city and has a Rolodex overflowing with names and numbers of the biggest, best and most elite of New York.
For eight months, I studied at the post graduate level Public Relations, and I went into the program thinking that PR was more like a lifestyle than a career. Take Samantha Jones for example, she is her own boss, she is fierce and she makes a lot of money (and let us not forget about her amazing fashion sense either). All of these desirable things had been over shadowed by her age. This character was in her late 40s on the show, which would mean she had to work for everything she had and obtained in life.
On the first day of class for my Principles of Public Relations class, the students were instructed to write down what he and she thought Public Relations was, and what it meant to each of us. I chuckled to myself as visions of Samantha Jones briskly walked through my head in her $500 a pair Manolo Blahnik shoes. Five star parties: check. Elite guest lists: check. Raking in the cash: check, check, check. Samantha was living the (fake) life I so desired to be living, and I thought that this was an accurate portrayal of the average Public Relations professional.
Little did I know just how wrong I really was. All of my pleasant thoughts and dreams were suddenly put on hold as a sat dumbfounded in grammar class. Who knew that Public Relations involved such hard and dedicated work, long hours, time management skills and proper spelling and grammar at all time, among the extensive laundry list of dos and don’ts? Certainly not me.
As classes resumed, I could not help but feel out of place. Was this really what I wanted to do with my life? Why had the media (but more importantly, Samantha Jones) forsaken me? I felt as though I was falling into a perpetual downward spiral. “I don’t remember signing up for this,” I would tell myself almost everyday, “Why isn’t this more glamourous? More fun?”
As weeks and months passes, I became more comfortable with what I was learning and somewhat willingly disregarded (at least some) of those silly hopes and dreams I had been building up since my younger years. Public Relations just was not about throwing and attending lavish parties, it was about networking and putting on events (see the difference?). We learned that not everything was going to come easy, we had to work our way up the ladder to success and recognition, it just was not going to be handed to us or have it dropped off in our laps. PR is about communicating with the public and the media, not hiding behind a “No comment” statement.
So much was to be taught and learned during my short time in the post graduate program. Computer skills needed to be refreshed and updated, intense sessions of grammar and writing could not be over looked, and not to mention, correctly planning and executing events played a vital role of my time.
The biggest wake up call to reality was learning that issuing a “No comment” statement is not only completely wrong, but that it also makes any PR practitioner look foolish and that he or she may be up to something. I don’t think that I have had anything drilled into my head more than this. All those celebrity publicists who have been using this statement since the dawn of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous have been doing it wrong. Who knew?
PR just is not about throwing and attending parties, rubbing elbows or even raking in the money. I am now able to take what I have learned and feel confident to go out into the workplace. I will be able to rub elbows through networking, put on fabulous events that everyone will want to attend, all while making a name for myself as I begin my ascent to the top of the ladder of success while looking fabulous, just like Samantha Jones.
- None Found
© 2008 – 2010, Daniel Dessinger. All rights reserved.