Thought Leadership

January 4, 2010

Are you a PR “people person?”

Meredith Topalanchik

I usually cringe when I hear PR people say, “I got into PR because I’m a ‘people person.’” A “people person”…really? It seems like a given that anyone in the communications field would like working with people. But recently I participated in two public relations / communications events that again reminded me of the ‘P’ in PR, and what personal relationships mean to our profession.


This fall, Dan Greenfield brought PR Camp to NYC. This interactive day-long event was a great experience, one which could generate numerous posts on topics ranging from who ‘owns’ social media engagement in the corporate world, to what older generations can learn from (and teach to) Gen Y PR professionals. However, what I really took away from this event was a reminder of the positives of networking and great interactions with the people I met.
Being in the PR industry, we participate in many events where networking is a must. But the environment is not always as conducive as one would hope. That wasn’t the case on this occasion. Immediately upon arriving at PR camp I met several professionals with whom I ended up exchanging cards and great conversation. And this happened again and again throughout the day. Adding to these direct interactions was another form of networking – through Twitter. What a surprising (but increasingly common) experience it is to have someone sitting behind you tweet out a comment that you just made. You have an immediate connection with that person, all through a simple shout-out, ‘RT’ or an @reply. In just one short day I was able to connect, and later correspond, with potential a number of potential new business partners and vendors.
The second event I participated in recently was a panel discussion about PR for a group of students at Marymount College in Manhattan. As a panelist, I was delighted that all of the students in attendance were interested in some form of communications as a career. I was inspired by both the students’ enthusiastic questions and the insights and experiences of my fellow panelists. It’s exciting to find real synergies with colleagues in very different, yet similar, fields. And I love sharing my experiences with students. I shared the ‘good, bad and ugly’ of what it means to be in this field, remembering that when I was in college I always got a lot out of hearing from real PR professionals. Looking back, that kind of direct and personal interaction has always been one of the core things I love about PR.
With 10 years under my belt in public relations, these kinds of events re-energize me about my job. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day to day of our roles – so much so we forget to get out there and ‘relate’ with all kinds of different ‘publics’! So maybe the next time I hear someone say they’re a ‘people person,’ I won’t cringe – because I may just be one myself.

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