Can Introverts Succeed in Public Relations?

dreamstime_s_30624236It is a common misconception that introverts can be rude and lack the social skills necessary to interact with people. However, for a majority of introverts, that couldn’t be further from the truth. On the contrary, most introverts like being around people and having a good time.

In many cases, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that many introverts are reflective people who get recharged in solitude – rather than being among a group of people. While introverts tend to be more reserved, they do enjoy being social and being around people.

However, some people stereotype public relations professionals as “attention grabbing,” “outgoing” and “energetic” people. These words are often used to describe most extroverts – not introverts. Can an introvert be successful public relations? The answer is yes.

We need to continue to strive for diversity in our profession. However, diversity isn’t limited to race and ethnicity. Diversity can be achieved through differences in age, profession, gender and personality. Having balance is key in any workplace.

Below are a few characteristics of introverts that make successful public relations practitioners:

Introverts often only speak when they have something meaningful to say. In most cases, introverts are reflective and like to think carefully about what they are going to say. In public relations, it’s important to take the time to craft the perfect message, especially during a crisis. Introverts may engage in more meaningful conversations, which leads to meaningful messages. With all the noise, it is not about speaking louder; it’s about bringing value every time you speak.

Introverts embrace relationships. In public relations, forming and maintaining relationships with our stakeholders – from clients to the media to fellow employees – is vital. In some cases, it can take a bit longer for introverts to warm up to people, but once that connection is made it is difficult for that relationship to be broken. Most introverts seek meaningful interaction.

Introverts are great listeners. Before jumping in and speaking, most introverts like to wait until the other person is finished talking before putting in his or her two cents. This can allow them to analyze the situation before saying something they don’t mean. It can also allow them to better understand the person they are interacting with, get a sense of their needs and potentially provide a proper solution.

It is important to accept both introvert and extrovert personality types in our profession because everyone can contribute something unique. Having people that can contribute unique ideas and different perspectives allows for an organization to be successful and well-rounded.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? How do you work with someone of a different personality in the workplace?

Parmida Schahhosseini is a senior at Baylor University studying journalism-public relations with a concentration in marketing. She currently serves as the President of Baylor’s PRSSA Chapter. Follow her at @pscha648.

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7 Responses to Can Introverts Succeed in Public Relations?

  1. Christian Navarrete September 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I recently embraced my introversion of personality spring semester of 2013 when leadership knocked on my doorstep. I appreciate this article you wrote due to the misconceptions of introverts leadership style in the workplace. In my experience working and collaborating with other individuals and professionals who aren’t quite educated on introversion is a difficult process to achieve success, but is achievable.

    As the assistant firm director of UNITY PR, a student run public relations firm, I was able to establish a long term rewarding partnership with an on-campus affiliation; such as student leadership center, an on-campus organization which offers resources to students who want to become influencial leaders in the community(SLC), by utilizing my keen ears to assess the client’s needs and desires to achieve a mutual beneficial relationship.

    Super ecstatic! We acquired them as our 4th UNITY PR client and account.

    I would have never expected my introversion could be an asset to the organization by establishing SLC account for UNITY PR. Previously mentioned in your article, leaders are not only extroverts, but introverts as well as any personality in the personality spectrum. I’m an advocate for permeating the message: introverts are leaders as much as extroverts.

    Thank you Parmida Schahhosenini!!

    Christian Navarrete

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    Parmida Schahhosseini Reply:

    Hello Christian, I’m glad you liked the post. As an introvert myself I thought it was a message that needed to be heard because many people try to force themselves into becoming extroverts when they aren’t. I know I had a hard time accepting that I was introverted because I was around extroverts all the time. Diverse personalities is important especially when we try to be a representation of society. That’s great about your 4th client, congratulations!!

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  2. maddi September 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    I like that this post goes beyond ethnic, racial and gender diversity and realizes that there are personality differences in every profession. A major key to success is learning to cooperative with people who have different attitudes, ideas and beliefs. By doing so, we can collaborate and take campaigns/projects to the next level.
    I would consider myself to be more of an introvert, but a mix of both. I like working with people that have different personalities; it gives each idea more perspective and creativity. -maddiblankenship@wordpress.com mblanke3@mix.wvu.edu

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    Parmida Schahhosseini Reply:

    Hi Maddi,

    Thanks for the reply. I agree about there being more to diversity because everyone is unique. Like you said, working with people allows for more perspective and creativity, which is important since we have to be innovators in order for our message to be heard.

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  3. Breeze September 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I think a successful public relations department or agency needs a balance of both introverts and extroverts because they bring different strengths to the table.

    It’s important for both extroverts and introverts to be aware of one another’s differences and try to create a workplace that accommodates both personality types.

    I am an introvert and realize that I don’t always communicate things out loud because I am busy working things out in my head. But to someone else that might seem like I’m not paying attention or am disinterested. I’ve had to adjust by over-communicating.

    Your third point, “introverts are great listeners,” is actually a great quality for leadership. Not to say all extroverts don’t listen, but they might be more inclined to put in their own ideas instead of letting a colleague finish.

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  4. Parmida Schahhosseini September 10, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Hi, I completely agree with what you said. Collaboration is important, so we have to know how to work with one another. The best way to do that is to understand each other.

    [Reply]

  5. Megan May 21, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    Parmida Schahhosseini, thank you for writing this article! As a future a public relations professional, I really appreciate that others understand that my quietness is not from a lack of interest but from a place of reflection. You characterized the best aspects of introverts perfectly.

    [Reply]

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