It’s that time of year again when I get a lot of inquiries either from those graduating school or those planning to enter in the fall with an interest in public relations. The most common question is what does it take to succeed in our business.
As I tell most of our employees in their interviews with us, the greatest value I think anyone in our business brings is our curiosity. Successful practitioners are curious blokes who thrive on continuous learning. Our clients are constantly developing new products and services, entering a new business or expanding into new geographies. Not unlike journalists, in order for us to serve them better, we need the innate trait of wanting to learn more about their moves so we can serve them better. There is a difference between asking good questions and really being curious and interested. I would argue that anyone can ask questions, but the curious have a real interest and also a focus on the actual learning about what is happening, not just in getting information.
It is for that reason, that one of the questions I will ask a candidate for an internship or account coordinator position is what are their hobbies, where have they travel to lately and what books have they read. For a young person, we can glean a lot of information by their answers. Now not everyone has the financial means to travel, but some of the great answers I have gotten over the years were people who spoke about a trip locally, to a museum, event, etc. Obviously, those that travel abroad or did a part of their college work overseas have another perspective on this answer. Books are another great insight. Again, there is no right or wrong answer. A person reading fiction can expand their horizons as much as someone reading biographies. Hobbies also shouldn’t be overlooked because if it is a passion, you will most likely grow from the experience.
Curiosity is not exclusive to the young or the “new” to our profession. It is for all of us —throughout our careers. Start young, but keep your curiosity fresh throughout your lives.