I’ve Been Working in PR for 7 Years, and My Mother Still Doesn’t Know What I Do For A Living
If you were to ask my mom today what her son does for a living, she would probably just tell you: “he works with computers or something.”
When I got my first job in public relations a little over seven years ago, I remember coming home and telling my mother about the new position I was being promoted to. I was stoked. I figured my mom would be too. Well, she would have been if she knew exactly what I was being promoted to.
After sitting there for 10 minutes explaining some of the things PR people do, she just looked at me and smiled politely. She didn’t get it. And honestly, I couldn’t blame her. I don’t think she really ever met anyone in the public relations field. Before my promotion, I didn’t really either. This is a very foreign profession for most people. Well, at least in my case. Like, I knew the industry, but it wasn’t something I ever intended on doing.
A little backstory
Both of my parents were born and raised on a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean – Sao Miguel, Azores. Technology was very foreign to them. As there wasn’t really anything out there other than refrigerators. And if there were any refrigerators, there was probably only one of them in the whole village. Thankfully for them, my parents got married and eventually moved to Boston where I would eventually be born and raised.
Being the son of first-generation parents wasn’t easy. Since my parents didn’t speak any English, my sister and I had to teach them almost everything that involved the English language. Like, I learned how to read a cable bill by the age of nine. And this isn’t a knock on my parents by any stretch. It’s just how it was.
Fast forward to today and now my mother is an American citizen. I’m extremely proud of her. But she’s still stubborn in her old ways. She doesn’t speak English fluently. I still have to update her iPhone any time there’s a new iOS update. There’s always something I need to fix when I come over. And don’t even get me started about that one time I had to set up her Facebook account.
To be fair, my mother is a dear. She’s a sharp gal and she generally knows what I do for a living. She doesn’t know the day to day stuff, but she gets it in a sense. And she really doesn’t have to. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just public relations. We’re not out here saving lives or anything. Like, we literally send a lot of emails and type words on a keyboard. That’s pretty much the gist of it.
It’s not just me either
“If one of my mom’s friends asked her what I do, she’d likely say that I do marketing, but if they pressed her on what that means, she would probably say something like “he tries to get the computers on TV.”
And that’s the point of this article. We’re not doctors. We’re not curing cancer. We do what we do best – represent our clients in the most beneficial way. I basically told my mother this: “I’m the guy who helps our clients get put in newspapers, TV, blogs, and magazines.” The rest of it is boring. Can you imagine me explaining to my old school mother what a blog is? Hard pass.
Closing this out, as PR professionals we need to do a better job explaining to people what we actually do. Keep it simple. Stop lying. Just define it in a way where anyone, including my mother, understands what it is you actually do. If you can’t do that, it probably wouldn’t hurt figuring that out.
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