Truth be told, we hear a lot of stereotypes when it comes to public relation practitioners who work in an agency that we barely focus on the pros of the agency world. They are notorious for outrageous parties, stylish ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ approved attire, luxurious lifestyles, and sometimes questionable ‘Aqidah.’
However today I am not here to play the holier than thou card with regards to the abovementioned stereotypes as I also had a brief stunt at a public relations agency and I feel that most of the times, not much credit is given where it is due.
If only we could look beyond these stereotypes and focus on the work ethics of an agency girl (or boy) and understand why every leading corporation in Malaysia demands they have one managing their internal corporate communications team. Here’s to uncovering each and every stereotyping myth.
Myth 1 : Agency Girls Are Always Late to Work
Do you know why your colleague can saunter into the office with a grande Starbucks cup at 11am, almost seconds after the boss is in the office? Well she stays back at the office every night and is constantly the last to leave, making sure that each and every client’s request is fulfilled. Even when we are not in the office, we are glued to our phones and checking each and every email, ensuring a response within 24 hours as every issue is an emergency when you work in an agency.
There may be a couple of bad apples, but here’s to the good ones who juggle the task of endless meetings with clients, stakeholders and media friends in the day while struggling to complete a proposal deck and daily BAUs in the evening. There’s just not enough hours in a day for an agency PR girl who has multiple accounts and clients to manage. So please, stop thinking that your colleague was late because she was involved in some crazy drinking game the night before.
Myth 2: Don’t Trust An Agency Girl – She’s Only Using You
I am of the belief that it is unfair to stereotype PR girls who work in the agency alone as everyone is using someone for some form of benefit at some point. You call your mother to tell her you love her so she won’t scold you for crashing her car. You buy the mechanic breakfast so he will be inclined to give you a discount for fixing your car. You compliment the nurse at the hospital hoping she will let you cut the lengthy pharmacy queue. And in so many of these cases, you do not even have to be a PR practitioner.
Yes we arrange catch up sessions over coffee and power lunches but it doesn’t mean we’re working constantly on selling you a pitch. There are times where it’s a genuine catch up with a friend to see how’s life. For god’s sake, we PR girls are human beings as well, not robotic Media Coverage crazed creatures!
Myth 3 : Agency PR Girls are the Mean Girls of every office
Well, at times they appear to be the Regina George of the office because of their close relationship to management but think of it this way: the PR person knows every single detail, every dirty secret of the company. Management needs the PR person to handle crisis communication so none of it gets out or at least is masked in the fluffiest terms. If the PR person doesn’t have a close and good working relationship with management, well, she would be fired.
But moving on to the actual point – agency PR girls are popular- in a sense that they have to work across with various different departments in order to get things done. However this does not make us mean girls. Now if we were to behave like Regina George in the infamous teen movie, do you think we would be able to get any of the departments to help us? My guess is we would make more enemies within the company and more people ready to play a political kabuki to screw us over.
(Bonus) Myth 4 : All Agency PR Girls are stylish
Ideally, any respectable PR practitioner is equipped with an excellent taste in wardrobe choices to reflect her eloquent and creative publicity ideas. However, I can’t say that every PR practitioner is stylish and it would not be fair to the majority who actually are. In fact there are a number of PR practitioners who instil that the clothes do not maketh the man – that they still perform in their duly tasks despite being dressed more like a computer geek rather than a high fashion supermodel. And then there is also the PR practitioner who brings an impressive brief on how to amplify digital visibility for your brand- in fact as equally impressive as her Balenciaga handbag.
I guess the important factor which needs to be highlighted is not the brand of the bag or shoes of the agency PR girl – it is really his or her ability to appear presentable at all times. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t hire a hobo looking creature to convince a client into pumping money for a project. Agency girls have been trained to dress accordingly to suit each client and function. She can be sporty for an Adidas launch and Muslimah for a Naelofar Press Conference. She adapts easily and will not embarrass your company at any time.
All in all, style and these stereotypes are fairly subjective matters yet unfair to impose on people who you barely know. With that being said, take another look at the book before you judge. Or better yet, take another look at that resume.