Why introverts can thrive in a PR career
Sophie Anderson, Junior PR Executive at Influential goes against the grain to argue why introverts can actually thrive in the world of PR...
Entering the world of PR can be scary for an introvert. When you think of a classic PR executive or account manager, you think of someone with a naturally outgoing personality, sociable and confident with no problem striking up conversation in a room full of strangers. The truth I have found, from working in the industry, is that whilst classic extrovert qualities are incredibly well suited to PR, there are lots of qualities introverts have that help them not just survive, but thrive within the role.
Introverts tend to be better listeners
According to the Harvard Business Review, great listeners are those who not only are quiet when other people are talking, but can also process what the other person is saying and empathises with their position. As introverts are less likely to want to claim the spotlight in a conversation, it is easier for them to provide a supporting role in a conversation, making the other person feel heard and appreciated. Research has also shown that introverts experience more cortical activity in response to stimuli, meaning they are processing more information. In an industry context, it means introverts are more likely to hear and understand a brief, network more effectively and excel in client and media meetings.
Introverts give considered responses
It is often the downfall of the PR executive to believe that being the loudest is going to get you a spot in the newspaper, magazine, or TV programme you’re after. Where introverts excel in this is by interacting thoughtfully with the media, journalists and other team members. Taking the time to prioritise your thoughts and ideas is what helps to stop silly mistakes from being made, and in an industry where journalists are getting hundreds of requests and pitches daily, could set you apart from the rest.
Preparation is key
One of the most important parts of an introvert’s social interaction is being able to communicate clearly and offer important discourse to a discussion or meeting. This relies heavily on preparation, to be able to organise thoughts and ideas and already have an idea of differing viewpoints. Studies have shown that blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for planning is higher in introverts, meaning that they will spend more time on ensuring that they are able to navigate a conversation effectively.
Introverts value quality over quantity
One thing some PR’s are criticised for when talking to journalists or pitching stories to media, is the tactic of sending a story out to as many publications as possible and hoping it sticks somewhere. This is ineffective as it not only clearly removes any personal element of an email or pitch, but can also lead to journalists being less likely to open emails from you, knowing that it may not be relevant to them. Because introverts find high levels of socialisation somewhat tiring, they will be more likely to plan properly who they would prefer to pitch to, and how best to approach that particular journalist or publication. This, in turn, helps to build longer-term, more connected relationships with the media and means that pitches are less likely to be ignored because journalists will know their time won’t be wasted.
The main thing that holds introverts back from going for that dream job in public relations is the fear of being overwhelmed. For me, I put off taking the leap because I was scared of not having enough time to rest and recuperate after a day of communicating. However, I found that by having an employer that encourages me to make the most of my rest time, and implements well-being initiatives to support its employees whilst in the office, as well as pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone, I have remained engaged, inspired and excited with the industry and the job.