I can never get bored of this television series - Sex and the City, an American romantic comedy drama.
The series is based on the life of four friends set in New York City. All accomplished women, who stay together in the highs and lows of life and are an inspiration in many ways!
I have special affinity to Samantha Jones' character, played by Kim Cattrall. If we dissect her personality, she comes across to be an independent, confident, strong and extremely outspoken businesswoman with a career in public relations (PR). The PR paradigms are incongruent when it comes to India vis-a-vis the International scenario. However, being a veteran in PR, would you say you are the most loved and envied inspirational character Samantha Jones when it comes to your PR skills?
It’s 2020 and she is still relevant. Here’s how you can evaluate if you are Sam:
1. She knows her work and she knows it really well: When you are an ace at what you do, no one can mess with you and this is what Samantha’s character portrayed in the show. She knew her job so well, that she couldn’t be cross questioned or go wrong with what she did. Her PR skills were
sharp and in place complimented with an array of influential connections that always came in handy. Keep your basics clear, spend more time in coming up with the strategy by weighing all opportunities, shortcomings, vehicles of communication etc., so that execution is seamless. This is the foundation of a successful career.
2. Well connected: She was well connected in the PR, fashion and media circuit. Connections and contacts are purely built on trust and if the foundation is trust, then relationships go a long way. Samantha’s contacts had not only helped her but her friends too on many occasions. And as a result of her contacts, she was party to many first events or trips where the people in general don’t usually get easy access to. As another boon, she had access to first-hand information and was on top of all news and information about upcoming events/ conferences/ developments that help one in staying ahead to plan things better.
3. Communication: It is said good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity and
Samantha knew the art very well. She has always been very clear in her communication all
through, to all stakeholders. In the PR world, communication is the essence and here, you can’t
afford miscommunication. You need to clearly assign tasks, delegate duties and define deliverables to get the desired result/s with the internal stakeholders as well as the external. Communication is the tool, we as PR professionals use to deliver and achieve understanding and realise goals in the interest of our stakeholders, therefore, it needs to be done effectively.
4. Content will always be the king: Once said, you can’t take your words back therefore you have to be extremely cautious to what you say. A PR professional should not ideally land in a foot in the
mouth situation. Big words if not used correctly might create chaos, keep it simple and clear. Know your facts before you say them and promise what’s doable. Setting the right expectations is always
better than over committing and achieving less, that would only result in disappointment whereas
the opposite is rewarding! Always remember, storytelling is one of the most effective ways to
communicate. In an era where journalists are mobbed with press releases, you will get an edge, if
you provide higher quality and engaging innovative content. Keep innovating, move with times so
that you are always in the game. Money should not define your ideas, content does! Find more
ways to own the limelight.
5. Soft skills: A PR professional needs to have composure, no matter what the situation might be.
But it doesn’t imply you should be taken lightly or for granted by any stakeholder/s. Soft demeanor
with a firm agenda helps a PR professional thrive. You must command authority through your
knowledge and be assertive but not in a negative sense. Confidence is the way to be! Always have
your facts right, that builds an individual’s confidence! People should perceive you as a confident
professional, so that you can have your way even in a tense situation which was cakewalk for
6. Taking risks: A PR professional must be willing to take risks and chances, it’s a part of our DNA.
You need to try new techniques and tools (especially in digital) to be more relevant and make a
dent. You should be daring enough to convince your clients to take the plunge and she had it all.
After being unhappy with her job, she even took up the decision to open her own agency! Be
ambitious and take the chance so that you don’t die with regrets! Don’t follow the norm, be the
norm! Don’t run after headlines in top financials/ mainlines, use digital, break news and campaigns
on digital, set new trends, use newer ways to get your clients to gain the limelight.
7. Crisis management: Samantha was the go-to person in any kind of crisis. Ensuring turnout at an event, getting meetings fixed with editors or knowing the who’s who to pull a few strings and come out of a situation was her thing. Even a thing like cancer could not keep her down! She
survived that too! So, never say never! There is always a way out!
8. Dress to kill: You can have anything in life if you are dressed for it that was clearly her mantra!
Dress up like it’s your day and no crisis, or client stinker, or wrong reporting in papers or an
erroneous email from the junior to your boss can ruin it for you, today! Also, it’s a proven fact, if
you are well dressed you are taken more seriously. Samantha was always well dressed, on all
occasions, this is really important in our profession. On many instances we represent the agency,
the clients, government bodies, therefore a PR professional needs to look sharp and chic, sending
out a professional vibe establishing the fact that you mean business.
That’s all for now, so if you are a Samantha, good for you, if not, let’s set the resolutions for 2020!
(The author is senior manager – corporate communications at FCB India.)