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All I Know About PR, I Learned From Hamilton

All I know About PR, I learned From Hamilton
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By Jennifer Chu

Last year, I saw the now-impossible-to-even-get-near-the-theater smash Broadway musical, Hamilton. I don’t say it to brag (ok, maybe a little? I paid face value!).

I saw it during a time of professional transition. After 15 years working in PR agencies, I was contemplating the future. It was a mix of burnout, work-life balance, and a little bit of wanting to chuck it all and move to Hawaii.

As it turned out, my love for PR was, well, “non-stop,” and I ultimately stayed in the business. When I think about what I love about my job, I can let Hamilton speak for me.

It’s a chance to be “readin’ every treatise on the shelf”

PR professionals get a bad rap for being about fluff and spin. In reality, good PR professionals not only have deep knowledge about the environment their clients operate in (What are the key industry issues? Who are the competitors? What are competitors doing?), but about trends in media and communications. There’s no shortcut to this; we have to constantly read, learn, absorb. Personally, this is my favorite part about working in communications—I have the perfect excuse to nerd out about not just one, but many different topics all the time. Ask me about academic progression models in nursing education!

“Have you read this?”

I’m an avowed information junkie who reads everything I can get my hands on. It is a window into a different place, time, or audience. At Message Partners, we make this a habit through our “Hometown Paper” report to the team. When any of us travel, we make a point to check out the local newspaper, and report details like the percentage of wire stories vs. original reporting, what’s on the front page, or who is on the masthead. It gives us an understanding of the local media scene that can’t be found via Google.

“Every action is an act of creation”

I am not a designer or an art director, but I’m creative every day at my job. Whether it’s coming up with a social media strategy to reach parents of infants, or planning an event to convene public health and preparedness officials, we have to think of smart, interesting ways to reach intended audiences and achieve our clients’ goals.

“Who tells your story?”

Working in a PR agency means that your client experiences sometimes become as important as your relationship with your colleagues. After all, it’s the client that has trusted us to be a steward of their message; everything we do is helping to tell their story. When the client-agency relationship clicks, it becomes a relationship, one that is built on trust, a true partnership. I’ve been lucky enough to work with organizations who I deeply admire and individuals who I would consider friends.