I came across a story on "happiness lessons" being offered to schoolchildren in the U.K. a while back, and it sounded like a pretty good idea to me. We all need lessons in happiness from time to time.
Even PR people. So here are my eight lessons for how to be happy in your career as a public relations practitioner:
Always tell the truth -- especially to yourself. That doesn't mean you can't represent a client or work for a company that holds an opinion different from yours on an issue; it just means that you must present it as the client or company's viewpoint, not your own. Too many PR practitioners cross this line without thinking about it.
Don't work for companies or clients whose products or lobbying stances you detest. Idea Grove stays away from politics as a rule; we are here to help businesses grow. But there are some companies we simply can't work with or advocate for. I respect the right of these companies to have PR representation. It just won't be us.
Don't overpromise. It's worth investing the time with your prospective boss or client to make sure they have reasonable expectations, rather than promising them the moon to get them to hire you or sign a contract. You'll only disappoint them, and yourself, later.
Believe in what you do. The Idea Grove team loves helping companies define themselves for their customers, the media and other audiences. So many companies have great ideas and great people; they just don't know how to get the word out effectively in a market full of noise. When we help a company do that, we feel like Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. If you don't get a similar feeling, you may be in the wrong profession.
Don't take yourself too seriously. If you wanted to take your job that seriously, you should have become a politician—or a journalist.
Stand up for what you know. When people of like abilities compete for the same goal, it is usually the confident one—not the "lucky" one—who succeeds.
Learn what you don't know. Opening your mind to the ideas of others isn't an indication of weakness; it is a sign of intellectual growth. Listening is learning.
Don't talk badly about other people. It's a quick-fix way to feel better about yourself; the more lasting way is through your own hard work. When you find yourself going ad hominem, think of your mind as being equipped with a pop-up blocker—and flick those negative thoughts away.
Scott Baradell is CEO of the unified PR and marketing agency Idea Grove, one of the top 25 technology PR firms in the United States. His first book,
Trust Signals, is scheduled for publication in 2021.