Filomena Fanelli

Why I Am Thankful to Be Working in PR This Holiday Season

By: Filomena Fanelli | November 6, 2017 | 

working in pr

Thanksgiving is just weeks away, which got me thinking–and not just about sweet potato and stuffing recipes, although those are top-of-mind.

For all of the rants I see about difficulties inherent in public relations work—beginning with how the profession typically is ranked as one of the most stressful occupations year-after-year and ending with stories of clients behaving badly—PR professionals have so much to be grateful for.


So, here’s some food (no turkey!) for thought on seven wonderful aspects of working in PR.

Working in PR is Telling Stories Which Need to Be Told

As professional communicators, we have the privilege of sharing information across many mediums and with many audiences every day.

But, with the changing media landscape—between the growth of social media platforms, blogging, video content, and shrinking newsrooms—it’s a full-time job to keep up with how, where, and when stories can be communicated.

Even so, as those in-the-know have said, sharing stories is important:

  • Seth Godin, best-selling author, and entrepreneur, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”
  • Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, “Publicity is absolutely A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.”
  • Jay Baer, author and consultant, “If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not story-telling. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.”

More than ever, responsibility lies on all public relations practitioners to create well-written, fact-checked copy which must present compelling information to those who need it most.

And, find suitable outlets to publicize those stories.

In doing so, we’re helping companies get the word out about their products or services.

We are also aiding non-profits in spreading their mission, as well as serving readers, listeners, and viewers.

That’s powerful work!

We Dream Big and Innovate

PR teams are often given the task of turning meh into marvelous, and that’s fun.

We get to come up with creative campaigns, elevate ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings into media worthy events, and find clever ways to convey messages.

We craft solutions to business dilemmas, make products palpable, sell services smartly, hone-in on new hashtags and more.

Whether it’s a coin dump for charity, a social media contest, or a branded skydiving event, our work is often varied and exciting.

I tell students and recent graduates who inquire about working in PR or marketing that no two days are alike.

We Have Earned a Respected Seat at the Business Table

With the industry moving away from advertising equivalencies and other vanity metrics and having real conversations about business goals and outcomes, we’ve solidified our (always valid, but now more concrete) position of importance within organizations.

I am thankful client meetings often involve executive decision-makers.

And I am thankful to be right there alongside them as we discuss strategic plans.

Thanks be to measurement!

We Have Evolved with the Times

PR has become a more integrated discipline, and it’s about time.

We’re talking about ourselves as more than publicists responsible for scoring media placements, but rather as communications professionals who know how to skillfully tell stories and convey messages overpaid, earned, social and owned channels (or, as Gini Dietrich memorably calls it, the PESO model).

Now that we’ve broken out of our silo, public relations pros are well on the way to the kind of holistic thinking which moves us forward.

We Develop Long-term, Fruitful Relationships

Public relations professionals help businesses connect more directly with communities.

When done well, we build bridges between the media and our clients, customers and stakeholders, and many more.

And, we even make some friends along the way.

Relationship-building is the heart of what public relations is, as stated by the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) definition:

A strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. It’s also one of the most gratifying parts of the job.

We Are a Close-knit Community

I am proud of the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation that most of our industry exhibits.

From this Spin Sucks blog and forum-an invaluable professional development resource for those in the PR and marketing realm to Counselors Academy, a national professional interest section of PRSA that focuses on the business of agency PR and a group that fosters the concept of us being in this thing together-we have lots to be thankful for.

These communities have been essential to me as a business owner and I know I’m in good company.

When we network, mentor, and grow together, we all become better resources to our clients and fellow practitioners.

We Inspire, Educate, Inform, and Change Minds and Behaviors

Moving people to action and shaping their thoughts around a topic and their behavior is nothing to sneeze at.

How many other professions can bring about such important change?

It’s a serious responsibility and honor.

What else would you add to this list?

Working in PR, what are you most thankful for?

About Filomena Fanelli

Filomena is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications, Ltd., a strategic public relations firm based in New York's Hudson Valley region. For the past 19 years and counting, Filomena has enjoyed telling clients’ stories through public relations – and she believes every single one of them has one. A former adjunct professor at Marist College’s School of Communications and the Arts, Filomena is a frequent guest speaker, talking about the industry with students and entrepreneurs alike. When not working, she enjoys going for long runs with friends, chasing after her two daughters, and writing blog posts about – you guessed it – public relations.

  • Ahhh….I love this post! We can whine about things in our industry endlessly, but in the end, it’s a pretty swell place to be, with amazing colleagues to keep it fun and interesting. Thanks for helping us re-focus on that!

    • Filomena Fanelli

      Glad you feel the same about it, Laura. I love that our industry is at the intersection of serious business and crazy creativity.

  • I believe the PR industry has a huge opportunity in front of it. We are storytellers. We are relationship builders. We are communicators. These are the skills necessary for marketing of the future and we already have them. Our marketing counterparts need to learn them—and they’re not skills you learn overnight. If we take advantage, we have a gigantic head start.

    • Filomena Fanelli

      We really, really do, Gini. We can harness the best parts of what we’ve been doing for the longest time, i.e. hold on to traditional PR, while still eagerly embracing what’s ahead. Happy to be a seasoned pro and a lifelong learner!

    • Joshua Rollins

      Being called a storyteller is seriously the best thing I’ve ever been called.

      • Filomena Fanelli

        Accurate description, Joshua. It’s one of our key strengths!

  • Kristen Knoerzer

    Great article! It’s important to remember the good even amidst stress and anxiety. I worked in retail for years before going back to finish my degree. Electronics at Target on Black Friday in one of our district’s busiest stores — definitely teaches you how to get yelled at and keep going. I learned a lot there, but this time of year especially I am so grateful to be out of it and in a career that is personally much more gratifying. I’m able to continually learn, improve, and grow, instead of trying to sell something I don’t believe people actually need (like an iPad for a 5-year-old). And, I get to find and share incredible stories — what could be better?

    • Filomena Fanelli

      Right on, Kristen. All of those retail skills do come in handy, I bet. A good reminder that we could all be on our feet on Black Friday. I prefer thinking of ways to tie into the topic and position stories! Signed, former customer service rep at a supermarket (first “real” job, but still!)

  • I love this, “We inspire, educate, inform, and change minds and behaviors.” So true. And who wouldn’t want to do this? It’s amazing to see how your campaigns help people for the better.

    • Filomena Fanelli

      Exactly, Corina. When you see the work do this, it becomes so much more than a paycheck!