During a recent training day with our entire team, I shared a story about prom dresses. When I was a teenager, my friend saw a designer dress in Vogue that she fell in love with but there was no way she could afford it. In those days you could buy a pattern for Vogue dresses, so we bought the pattern, thinking a seamstress could make it for her but even that was several hundred dollars more than she could afford. So I suggested that we buy the fabric and try to sew it ourselves. How hard could it be? I was smart and resourceful – surely I could figure it out. Ultimately, with some hard work and a lot of trial and error, I sewed her prom dress and made a bright blue shiny one with ruffled sleeves and a high-low hem – in full 80s regalia – that I wore to my prom…
I shared that story because it’s a good example of what I call hustle and it is what has remained consistent about our profession. Successful PR people need to know how to hustle and put their heart into the work. You have an idea or a goal, and then you have to have the mettle to figure out how to bring that to fruition. It may be hard, you may have to learn a new skill, find another route, change direction but ultimately, you make it happen.
And the thing is, in our industry, if you can bring hustle you can go a long way. Recent graduates, especially those with PR degrees often think about their future in terms of glamorous sounding jobs in a PR firm attending parties and rubbing shoulders with celebrities but that is almost never the case. A year or two at the proverbial copy machine quickly disabuses them of their glamorous visions of courtside seats and red-carpet events. From day one, they might be asked to do something they didn’t learn about at school, or at that internship, and they have to figure it out.
Curiosity, creativity, tenacity. These are the elements of hustle. Bringing your “A” game, and always doing your best work are winning strategies, in work and in life. So next time you feel stuck, or unsure of your next move, pull out a picture of your high school self in that dress, with that hair, and think about hustle and where it could take you.
Our profession is in a constant state of change so our agency, Affect, is in a constant state of change. It’s probably even a faster pace than other agencies given the types of clients we serve in the tech industry. The constant learning and need to re-educate yourself are some of the things that I love about this business. Working alongside people who know how to get sh*t done is the other. Most of my colleagues are incredibly smart, talented and passionate individuals who could have excelled in any career. Luckily, they chose PR where they have to put their heart and hustle into their work on a daily basis.
To hear more, listen to Sandra Fathi’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.