As we roll into and out of college graduation season, a lot of Public Relations rookies will be settling into new gigs that simultaneously excite and terrify them. Reaching out to established journalists for the first time is nerve wracking, and chasing down reporters on the phone can make your voice shake. These freshly minted professionals waited a long time for this opportunity; it’s something they may have studied and anticipated for years, but now that the opportunity is upon them, suddenly they might not be so sure of themselves.
So while these future stalwarts panic in their cubes, they might have flashbacks to days of yester-year to another moment they long anticipated, but managed to give them more anxiety than any chemistry exam ever could – prom season. The anticipation of partying the night away with your whole class, getting dropped off in limos, shopping for a dress for eight years or a tux for eight minutes with your close friends, is a whole lot of fun. Mustering up the gusto to ask the cute girl to go with you or waiting for that hot guy from math class to finally make a move can be a little more intimidating and awkward. For most of us, things worked out pretty well, and by the time senior prom rolled around, the process was old hat.
Most people only get one or two proms, but PR pros have many, many more chances to interact with journalists, who have no problem saying no to the dates they don’t think are good enough for them. Overcoming the fear of denial is a necessary adaptation for survival in this business. Sure, it’d be great to have the prettiest girl in town on your arm, proving to your parents you really are as great as they think. And sure, securing a hit in Forbes or the Wall Street Journal is no small achievement. But expectations must be tempered, not every client can take the same date to the same prom on the same day.
As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” And seeing as he’s known as The Great One, he might know a thing or two about achieving goals and putting in effort to stand out from the crowd. So be engaging, be unique and be confident. Ask the girl you really want to take, pitch the reporter you really want to secure interest from and let them decide how they feel about you. But if it doesn’t work it’s ok. There’s always another girl who needs a date and another story to win her over.
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