*Well obviously I’m not, for if I were then I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it, however it seems that any readers out there who are in the biz we call PR could be, let me explain….
…Yesterday, I had to ask my laptop to do something rather intensive, which to its credit it did to the very utmost of its ability while totally refusing to do anything but that one thing for a good 30 minutes or so. This meant I had a rare chance to give PR Week a bit more attention than the cursory flick through that it usually gets, including the job section, where a half page ad made me do a double take.
Your experience of dealing with people means you can build trust and relationships with all sorts of individuals, which makes you the ideal candidate for developing a career securing the information we need to protect national security
Now while the idea may seem a bit laughable at first, when you have a think about it there are several skills a seasoned PR pro should have skills that would easily transfer to the world of spying intelligence gathering. First we have the one highlighted by the ad itself, our ability to deal with people, building trust and relationships. It tactfully doesn’t mention that its really our ability to deal with a wide range of aggravating personality types without actually punching them in the face is the skill it’s really after. For a PR bunny’s ability to make any client or journalist, no matter how obnoxious they may be, feel like they are the centre of the PR’s universe, without them having the slightest inkling that A) they actually can’t stand them and B) are making approximately 15 – 20 other people feel equally loved at the same time, is surely a boon to when trying to persuade foreign operatives to share intel.
I do feel that the MI% recruiters are perhaps not aware of the other transferable skills we PRs could bring to the world of espionage. For one, thanks to years of speaking industry jargon and being fluent in TLAs, deciphering codes would be a a doddle. We’re also quite cute at taking detailed verbal or written briefings and then working out what is of actual of use or interest to others and what is complete bull and as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest. We’re also rather good at taking the most vague of briefings and making stuff happen off our own bat.
A good PR can, when the occasion demands, blend seamlessly into the background, only being noticed when we want to be. Think of all the interviews hosted where they only time you spoke was to do the introductions, promised to find the sale figures for Q3 at the end and jumped in just before the spokesman inadvertently reveals the product roadmap for the next three years. Finally, I fear it is a dying art but it used to be crucial one, which is while drinking at the same rate as both client and journalists, actually remaining significantly more sober.
So it’s clear to see what’s in it for the chaps at north but why would any bright young PR Bunny with a promising career in schmoozing decide to become a secret squirrel and help defend the country instead? Well the pay is not too bad, and while clients may be tightening belts left, right and centre, the budgets for the Intelligence services remain remarkable robust and will do so for the foreseeable future. Plus its notoriously difficult to get out of the boot from a civil service once you’re in so job security is less of an issue.
There is also the bonus of no longer having that sinking feeling of dread when Great Aunt Mabel asks what you do for a living, which you know is going to involve a detailed answer using the phrases, yes sort of like advertising but not really and no, it’s not telesales either, repeatedly and to no avail. The downside is that you wont actually be able to tell her what you do at all.
Unless you then kill her.