I grew up watching Sex and the City and ironically, the reason I pursued a career in public relations was because of Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall. She depicts the life as a PR agent to be the most laidback and glamorous profession for a brave, outspoken career-driven woman. Who wouldn’t want their job description to read as a well-dressed cosmopolitan who sips on expensive cocktails, spearheads A-list events and brushes shoulders with celebrities in Manhattan?
There are no shortages of PR depictions in the media, each with their own spin on the profession. However, the older the performance, the weaker the accuracy, which speaks to the evolving nature of public relations. The television depictions tend to brush over the day-to-day tasks of the profession, we rarely see any characters at their desks checking emails, pitching their clients to journalists, or writing press releases. At its core, PR is about strategic planning, conceptualising, writing, and building relationships, not just crisis management and events planning.
The Samantha Syndrome refers to the way PR professionals are depicted in movies and the many misconceptions of the profession. When people think of public relations, the go-to descriptions are Jerry Maguire’s infamous line “Show me the money?”, Olivia Pope’s crisis management in The Fixer, and even Peggy Olson’s publicity stunts in Mad Men. While these aren’t completely accurate, there are lessons that can be learnt about working in the industry.
Here are some lessons I learned from Samantha Jones:
Know your worth
Self-esteem and confidence are two key strengths we learn from the four main characters Sex and the City. They all recognise their worth and expect others to treat them how they deserve. Find an agency that values your contribution and matches your skills to accounts that will help you grow.
Put yourself first
When Samantha breaks up with one of her boyfriend’s, she says “I love you, but I love me more.” The sentiment is important for personal and working relationships – if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you run the risk of burnout.
Ask for what you want
The worst that can happen is a no. Whether it comes to media, clients or colleagues being open about expectations, requests and needs will help strengthen the work you do.
Having a can-do attitude is important in the PR world. When preparation meets opportunity, we secure the best coverage for our clients. Always follow up on any stories sent to media – if you’re tapping into the right conversation, they will find value in your copy.
Own your accomplishments
It’s important to be proud of your achievements and use the skills developed within your education, previous work experience and hobbies to build your career pathway.
In short, Samantha Jones taught me as much about on-the-job public relations as Carrie Bradshaw taught us about becoming a freelance writer. While she might not have taught me a lot about PR, she did teach me a lot more about the tough skin, confidence and cut-to-the-chase attitude required for the job.