We all present ourselves differently depending on our audience, I’m sure you can’t disagree with that. You might think you’re one of those people who are just you and if others don’t like it that’s tough. But I bet you change your tune when you meet the in-laws for the first time and you’re desperately trying to impress. Pull out all the bells and whistles and be on your best behaviour, yes? I see right through you.
Similarly, we all lie to some extent these days. Not maliciously, I know, but if you’ve got a social media account you’re choosing what to present to the rest of the world, even if you’re presenting nothing. Perception of you is built around these platforms and you know it. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you let your friend post that really dodgy pic of you the other day?
So, with those two things in mind, let’s consider how we utilise this working in PR.
Now, I don’t want to make it sound like my job is a ruse, but let’s think about the parallels for a moment. Working in PR involves being and presenting yourself as many different things – but not in that really creepy ‘I’m a dude who’s pretending to be a girl, Catfish type of way’ – more in a ‘I look after five clients on a day-to-day basis and I have to be (and be on hand for) all of them simultaneously and interchangeably’.
What I mean by that is, every client offers a different product. We don’t work with clients that would be competing in the same market, so there’s an individuality to each account. We work across B2B and B2C clients, and those that cover both. We have to adapt to talk to businesses, consumers, or both, at the same time. Still on board? Good. Let’s move on.
See, this thing of working with five brands at once means you have to be five brands at once; malleability is key. YOUR malleability. It doesn’t matter if you wouldn’t normally speak so formally, or get excited about bricks or beer – if your client does – would – you have to too. Adapt to their tone of voice in EVERYTHING. Press releases; social content; hell – when you’re talking to a journalist – represent the brand at all times.
When you’re client facing – represent their brand. Understand what they want and why – you won’t go far wrong.
Interchangeable personalities at work
I work across accounts where I have to engage with the following: a predominantly male, 18-30, lad culture and young professional market; business owners looking for advice and support on anything from taxes to cloud computing; prospective homeowners, whether that be first time buyers or those looking to step up the ladder; and that well known sub-culture of independent-thinking, counter-culture embracing individuals that we tend to call ‘hipsters’. More specifically, hipsters that like high-end beer.
You might wonder how I can write about tax breaks for small businesses for an hour, or the Government backed Help to Buy scheme, then switch to calling journalists pitching an event launching a brand new ale and promising its audience meat, music and mayhem. Some days, when my brain has turned to mush and I can feel it trickling out of my ears, I wonder too. But I remember there’s a reason I work across these accounts. We can all adapt – we put ourselves in other people’s shoes daily – and in PR, we have the capacity to understand the needs of a given client and their audience. If you’re lucky, you’ll work with a client you just get, instantly, and you can be yourself.
PR isn’t smoke and mirrors; we believe in the clients we have and we do our darndest to represent their brand. It’s fun to be someone else, to represent new values and learn things you otherwise wouldn’t have a clue about. That’s what I love about PR.