Success In Public Relations

Yesterday, over coffee, a friend and colleague of mine shared with me a read that she thought I’d find helpful and relevant to the public relations industry. It’s a list of personality traits that determine whether an individual will succeed in the world of public relations, which I’m sure you’ve come across in public relations textbooks or journals. These traits were compiled by Bill Cantor, an author and the president of an executive search company in New York known as The Cantor Concern, which has since evolved into Cantor Integrated Marketing Staffing.

I’m going to share all 10 traits with you, then elaborate on the five that I feel are most relevant to a young pre-professional.


Cantor’s Traits for Success:

  1. Response to tension
  2. Individual initiative
  3. Curiosity and learning
  4. Energy, drive and ambition
  5. Objective thinking
  6. Flexible attitude
  7. Service to others
  8. Friendliness
  9. Versatility
  10. Lack of self-consciousness

If you can relate to all ten of these characteristics, you and public relations go together like peas and carrots. Out of these 10 traits, the five that I feel benefited me most when I first started as an intern are:

Individual Initiative

It only does you a disadvantage if you’re always waiting for instructions. Being able to think ahead of the game and anticipate needs is necessary in the world of PR.

Curiosity & Learning

You’ll never ever stop learning at any point in your career, because in this industry we are constantly evolving, learning and adapting to new trends. It’s said so often, but, be a sponge. And better than that, want to be a sponge. You should always want to learn more about a client and its product/service, mission and competitors. 

Energy, Drive & Ambition

In my opinion, the best of public relations professionals never complain about how tired they are. Sure, we’ll joke about how much coffee we consume, but working around the clock is something to be expected from this industry. Instead, they talk about that adrenaline rush they got from a busy, productive day or the feeling of satisfaction they got from a campaign well-done. Great PR pros are stimulated, not deterred, by problems, and are persistent on finding a solution.

Objective Thinking

The ability to be perceptive and aware of your surroundings and what’s going on in them is a vital trait to possess in PR. As Cantor explains, you “must know what to do and say and when.” Working in the industry requires you to pay very close attention to detail, especially in writing, as well as the ability to observe someone else’s feelings through verbal and non-verbal communication.

Flexible Attitude

I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard to be aware of when you’re in the wrong, but it’s still a necessary trait as a PR professional. Because you communicate with so many different individuals, from your clients, to their audiences, to the media, it’s also important that you’re able to see things from their points of view. Don’t always make decisions based on your own personal beliefs. Instead, take into consideration your client, its audience and the media when necessary.


Which traits do you think are most important when it comes to starting off in the world of public relations? Let me know by leaving me a comment, or starting a conversation with me on Twitter at @thisjenngirl.



4 thoughts on “Success In Public Relations

    • Thank you, Andrea! So glad you found the points relevant– it’s such a great lesson to teach in a PR fundamentals course, that way students know what kind of mindset is needed of a PR pro! :)

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