Monday, June 20, 2011

Awesomely Awkward (Or, Digital PR Pros Are Weird)

Gonzo (c) The Jim Henson CompanyPeople in the PR industry are awkward. All of us. We're the smart kids, the creative kids and the weird kids. Maybe we're attracted to the digital PR industry because all that weirdness is celebrated, or maybe it's because the weird, smart, creative kids got here first and we set the rules.

Look at some of the big names in the PR blogosphere: Todd Defren, Brian Solis, Kevin Dugan

All a little weird.

(Sorry, guys. You're still my PR heroes.)

But I think being a little weird is one of the biggest strengths of the industry. We're strange and smart and willing to go that extra step, even if we look a little silly. We try new things and come up with crazy ideas that just might work, and we look at the traditional strategies from a different perspective, coming up with an innovative plan that builds on our predecessors.

Some PR professionals have incredible charasima to go with their marketing know-how, while others excel at the behind-the-scenes work, writing speeches and outlining campaigns. There are as many jacks-of-all-trades as there are social media mavens and viral-campaign experts. Digital PR is a wonderful, evolving mix of experts, but I still think there is one, defining trait: we're a little weird.

In the summer of 2008, I created a sing-a-long resume. I knew I was doing something a little weird; I knew I didn't have quite the right software for the vision I had; and I knew I am a terrible singer. But I also had a free weekend and I wanted to do something different.

The result was a video that has been equally applauded and derided by professionals and career advisers.

I could lie and tell you it didn't hurt when someone commented that I am painful to watch. It did hurt. But I am kind of painful to watch--I am just as weird in person as I am in the video. I write well, and my campaign outlines are often spot-on, but I am a little ridiculous in person. I will never list public speaking as a strength, and I am much more comfortable writing speeches than giving them, although that is something I am working on.

On my first day walking into Edelman in 2008 (a job I got, in part, to being a little strange), a coworker and friend said to me about the Digital Team: "We are so awkward. All of us."

I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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