By Jackie Smiles
Never bullshit or sugarcoat anything – people see right through it. Always work transparently. Don’t bullshit your colleagues, don’t bullshit the media and don’t bullshit your clients. If you make a mistake (and trust me, I’ve made loads!) – admit it, apologise and own it. I’ve only recently learnt to accept failures and mistakes as learnings. Things are never going to be perfect and things are going to happen that are beyond your control, but it’s important to always be honest. And if something isn’t working, I’ve learnt to immediately raise it and come up with an alternative solution. People value honesty so get on the front foot and don’t wait until shit hits the fan.
You don’t have to be the loudest one in the room
As an introvert working in communications, it has taken me years to truly come out of my shell and speak up. But I’ve slowly learnt that you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, just the one that brings the most value. Sometimes it’s actually more valuable to stop, let others speak and listen to what they’re saying (and I mean really listen). I don’t think we listen to each other enough. We’re so good at talking at each other (and I know, because I’ve been in too many of those meetings) that we fail to understand each other and more often than not, we miss the point.
Never stop learning
My husband has always said to me, “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” If you’re not constantly being challenged, questioned or critiqued, you’ll never learn or move forward. Receiving constructive criticism is so important and valuable, and over the years I’ve learnt how to embrace this. The media landscape is constantly evolving so there is always something new to learn every day.
It’s PR – not ER
We’ve all heard this statement before, right? Yes, PR can be stressful and yes, there are days you want to pull your hair out. I’ve had too many moments where I felt my heart would pump right out of my chest. Working in PR means juggling multiple projects and deadlines at once while trying to deliver the best results. I’m a perfectionist (still working on it!) so it’s taken me a damn long time to accept the fact that things are going to happen that are beyond my control, regardless of how many ‘i’s I dot and ‘t’s I cross. So (and this is thanks to Angela), I’m constantly reminding myself to be the warrior, not the worrier!
As the saying goes, ‘curiosity may be bad for cats, but it’s great for humans!’ I’ve learnt it’s important to ask questions even if you feel it will make you look stupid (because chances are, it probably won’t). Question everything, but not for the sake of questioning or arguing. Do it with good intention and do so in a way that’s constructive. Just because there’s a process in place or things have been done in a certain way for many years, it doesn’t make it the right way. Always ask, what tools can we use to make this better? How can we make this more effective, impactful and meaningful? I’ve learnt that asking questions helps me delve deeper into solving business problems and can help identify any gaps and opportunities.