By Emily Scher
The Hoffman Agency
My name is Emily, and I am an introvert.
I know, an introvert working in public relations. It sounds like a paradox, right? We generally expect public relations professionals to be outgoing and loquacious — and most of all, excellent communicators. But, who says introverts are poor communicators? In reality, we just communicate in different ways.
The biggest differentiator between introverts and extroverts is the quality of drawing energy from short-lived moments of solitude, as opposed to large crowds full of chatter and excitement.
Since this quality can often be misconstrued in a work setting, here are a few attributes that can be used to the introvert’s advantage in the public relations field:
We Care About Building 1:1 Relationships
Personally, the larger the group I am in, the less I speak up. While this can sometimes work against me when I’m shy to speak up in a meeting, I put a lot of time and energy into building individual and personal relationships. I value getting to know people, learning what they like and what makes them tick. Once I feel I have a read on someone and he or she has a read on me, I relax, open up and let myself communicate freely.
We Pay Close Attention
The majority of introverts are extremely sensitive listeners. Someone once said to me, “I’ve noticed you like to observe. I think you’re the only person I’ve ever met that could sit in a room full of people all day and enjoy listening more than talking.” I have to say I agree with him, and I’ve tried to apply this quality to my work. Whether I am in an internal meeting, speaking with a client or grabbing a coffee with a co-worker, I am always striving to be a better listener than talker.
As introverts, we have an exceptional quality of enjoying listening, rather than waiting for our next turn to speak. I think this is particularly useful in a profession where you’re working with clients on a daily basis. Nothing makes people (especially clients) feel better and more important than knowing they’ve been heard and understood.
We Communicate Sparingly, Yet Strategically
Generally we introverts are people of few words. Not because we are necessarily shy, but because we like to think before we speak. Allowing ideas to sit and crystallize before we share them with a team or a client may make us come across as reserved, but generally proves successful in the communications world.
We Prefer to Stay Calm
In the PR field, there are moments of crisis more often than not. In these situations, introverts do not outwardly show that they are overwhelmed. Instead, we calmly assess the situation and thoughtfully yet quickly devise a plan of action.
This approach proves especially helpful when multitasking. In PR, you rarely find yourself working solely on one project; instead your day generally consists of multiple juggling acts. Being able to coolly assess your to-do list and think about the best course of action helps to get things done in an efficient manner.
We Don’t Crave the Spotlight
Most introverts tend to avoid the spotlight at all costs. Not wanting to be the center of attention generally makes introverts strong team players, and we typically thrive working behind the scenes to drive our teams forward and develop a client’s brand and reputation.
Being an introvert in the PR field may at first seem like being a fish out of water, but I assure you it can be done successfully. It just might take us a few hang-ups before we finally pick up the phone and call that reporter.