The Fluff Behind the “PR Maven”

When it comes to public relations, everyone wants to be the greatest – the one with the most industry knowledge, largest network and the most clout. The problem with this is that it makes it difficult to separate the real from the fluff. If you’ve been in the media world for the last six months, I am certain you can spot the “I’m the hottest thing in the game” fluff stars. The fluff stars are those who think public relations is just planning parties and meeting celebrities; or those who equate their foursquare check-ins with being a “maven”. A PR maven is someone who identifies PR as the robust industry that it is and someone who has produced excellence within the industry over a long period of time.

The “maven” title has been overused and it is underserving. About 99% of the time, these “PR mavens” are fresh out of college with no more than three internships under their belt. They have minimal writing or pitching experience, can’t tell you the top five stories in a major news outlet and they have their Instagram followers as their LinkedIn connections. When you begin to label yourself as a “maven” you indicate your lack of respect for the work it actually takes to be a maven – you cut out the middle man and crown yourself. It makes me think you’re the type of individual that would prefer to go from intern to CEO.

My advice:

  • Be a thought leader in the industry. Understand that much of your respect in public relations comes from your experience of strategizing and implementing successful campaigns and then sharing your experience with others.
  • Become a master of your craft. In public relations, where aspects are ever changing and growing, monitoring the industry is key. Stay abreast on what’s happening globally; broaden your skills by reading case studies; subscribe to legitimate trade publications and their RSS feeds; check the AP stylebook out every now and then.
  • Have a slice of humble pie. Nobody likes someone who thinks they know it all. Some of the greatest practitioners (and actual PR mavens) I know – Shalimar Blakely, Dawn Kelly, Darisha Miller and Dawn Roberts – worked the longest hours, served several PR organizations, won their accolades and still have the humility of a monk. Look them up and ask them how they do it.

The fluff behind the “PR maven” can be spotted a mile away, so don’t dub yourself one if you don’t have the industry experience to back it up. Remember to trust the process. You can’t reach true success by taking the express elevator up.

AmandaAmanda T. Winston is a freelance public relations professional and branding enthusiast with a strong interest in leadership. Her passion for public relations and strategic planning began with her role as president of the Temple University Black Public Relations Society chapter. Since then, she has held various roles on account teams at The Philadelphia Conventions and Visitor’s Bureau, Health Partners, 900am WURD and the Black Public Public Relations Society of New York. She graduated with honors from Temple University with a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Organization and Communication.