Eliminating Public Relations Stereotypes — Starting With Ourselves

coffeeworkOur profession is full of people with diverse interests, hobbies, tastes and styles. However, quite often the general public views us as coffee-drinking, social media addicts who love talking to everyone, all the time.

While many public relations professionals do love coffee and always have a smartphone in hand (How else will we Instagram that perfect latte design?), that is not the case for everyone.

When we define our profession by certain behaviors or addictions, rather than by the work we do, it only allows the public to view public relations professionals as a homogenous group. We all know that is not the case. However, the public will only know if we help them see the diversity of personalities within our profession.

There’s an article in the latest issue of FORUM titled “Anatomy of a Public Relations Professional.” Rather than focusing on stereotypes, it defines us by useful traits, including problem solving, listening and thick skin, to name a few.

I’d like to encourage others to do the same.

While I enjoy bonding over the obsessions and passions I share with many PRSSA members, it is important to remind myself not everyone in public relations shares them. I love coffee, but PRSSA Immediate Past President Brian Price does not. PRSSA has many introverted members, and there are members like Vice President of Regional Conferences David Watta who don’t build their network primarily through social media.

We all practice public relations differently. It’s the diverse traits, interests, quirks and skills that make our profession so powerful. This Diversity Month, I encourage you to embrace the diverse thoughts, interests, backgrounds and demographics in our profession. Get to know your colleagues by the work they do — without forgetting the passions and interests you share with many of them.

How do you break the stereotypical mold of public relations professionals? Share below to celebrate the diversity in our profession.

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This is a guest post written by PRSSA 2014–2015 National President Heather Harder. Follow her on Twitter @HeathHarder, and connect with the entire National Committee.

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