Anatomy of a Public Relations Professional Public relations is a demanding industry. Since a practitioner’s role may change on an hourly basis and expectations are through the roof, it can be helpful to look at the symbolic anatomy of a successful public relations professional. Students should keep these traits in mind as they seek experience and professional development opportunities outside the classroom. BRAIN Perhaps the most important attribute a practitioner can have is the ability to problem solve. When given a starting position, problem solvers are crafty in finding an efficient path to the optimal end result. EARS Savvy brand counselors listen before reacting. In addition to listening for content, they listen for tone, inflection and repeated phrases to determine the appropriate response and delivery thereof. EYES Talented public relations professionals are observant and can identify valuable target and landscape insights that can lead to strategically based ideas. Keep your eyes open to the world around you. MOUTH Influencers within the office routinely teach emerging staff, provide warranted counsel and share opinions from experience-based outcomes. Establish yourself as a thought leader in the workplace by consistently speaking up when the floor is open. HEART It’s difficult to be effective at what you do when your heart is not into the work. Successful public relations professionals are passionate and excited to contribute. MUSCLES When the right plan is on the table, quality practitioners are capable of doing the required heavy lifting to turn an idea into something tangible. The best ideas are worthless without those who can execute when the rubber meets the road. HANDS It doesn’t matter which side of the business you’re practicing, public relations professionals get pulled in a million different directions. Those who can effectively multi-task using time management and prioritization best practices will go far in the industry. This is cruicial to learn early on because later in your career, you will have to master the responsibility of delegating tasks while maintaining your personal to-do list. STOMACH Public relations professionals are constantly challenged to dive into new and foreign areas of practice — and possibly uncomfortable territory. Young staff can be intimidated to speak in front of a room full of impressive titles or pick up the phone to cold call media. Having the guts to face these challenges head-on separates standouts from their peers. SKIN It’s a guarantee for any public relations professional to encounter a verbal assault at some point. Whether the feedback is coming from media, a client or a manager, practitioners with thick skin can turn anything into a new, constructive game plan while not taking harsh feedback personally. FEET Your walk can communicate a lot to those around you. Those who walk fast and with purpose have somewhere to be. In addition, don’t rely on email as the only means to communicating internally. Walk the halls and connect with your colleagues in-person to have a meaningful dialogue. University of Alabama PRSSA Gives Back At the University of Alabama, we are no strangers to natural disasters. A massive tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama in April 2011, and the town and university experienced a desperate need for support. Relief efforts and supplies flooded the area from sources across the country to ease suffering and rebuild lost homes. When Hurricane Sandy brought destruction to New York City more than a year later, the UA PRSSA Chapter was inspired to help those in need. The storm created a demand for winter coats and financial donations. UA PRSSA partnered with the organization New York Cares to support the city during its time of need and the Tuscaloosa Gives Back campaign was born. Through fundraisers at local restaurants, the sale of custom Tuscaloosa Gives Back t-shirts and a coat drive, UA PRSSA helped restore New York City. Last year, UA PRSSA members continued the Tuscaloosa Gives Back initiative by hosting a fundraiser event on campus to help typhoon victims in the Philippines. Though no money is raised for the Chapter itself, relief efforts engage Chapter members and increase awareness of the positive aspects of our organization across the country and the globe. The Tuscaloosa community and its students understand better than most how tough times unite everyone for a good cause. With a Chapter of more than 200 members, UA PRSSA knows the importance of giving back. The next Tuscaloosa Gives Back campaign is yet to be determined. Though we hate to see disaster strike, our Chapter finds comfort in being able to rally relief efforts, just as others did for Tuscaloosa in 2011. . University of Alabama created a campaign called Tuscaloosa Gives Back to help Hurricane Sandy victims after the storm tore through the East Coast last year. Photo courtesy of Jacquie McMahon.