The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a short and sweet book about living your best life. Ruiz highlights four main agreements that we must hold ourselves to in order to achieve greatness: Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. Though we should implement these four agreements in our personal lives, there is room to apply them to our professional lives as well.
Public relations is all about storytelling. In order to tell a story to the best of our abilities on behalf of clients, we must choose words carefully. Our words must have the power to inspire, persuade, and allure. It is crucial, however, that these words create an honest representation of the client. To be impeccable with our word is essentially to use the power of words in a positive and genuine way. Aside from being articulate in projects, it is important to be articulate in dealings with clients, employers, and peers. To be effective PR practitioners, we need to be able to communicate in both a timely and honest manner with those we work with. Stay true to your word when you agree to a deadline or new project. Stay true to yourself when you have to turn down a project by using the correct words.
This one is a hard pill to swallow for many of us. Public relations practitioners are caring communicators at their core that infuse passion into their field. It is hard to avoid taking things personally when you are passionate and put yourself into every project. With that being said, everyone needs to try not to take anything personally. If you work at an agency and you pitch an idea that gets rejected, don’t take it personally. The rejection does not mean the idea wasn’t strong, it means the idea wasn’t the right fit for the desired goals of the client at that point in time. We are so used to blaming ourselves that we take every rejection to heart. I know it’s true because I’m guilty of it, too. At the end of the day, everyone is working towards their own goals. People are looking out for themselves and their bottom line. If someone rejects your idea, it has to do with their goals and is not at all a poor reflection on you. This agreement will take practice, but it will improve the way you feel about your work and yourself.
This agreement is crucial as there is no room for assumptions in public relations. We must be 100% sure about our facts before we share them into the stories we are telling. We cannot assume a client wants social media postings, influencer marketing, and media scanning. We cannot assume a journalist is going to jump for the story after we pitch it to them. Our job as PR practitioners is to clearly outline what the client needs and present the truth to the journalist in the hopes that they will be enticed by the pitch. We cannot accomplish these goals if we assume we know the need or outcome. It is also important that we don’t make assumptions in our positions. If your boss asks you to complete a task that you have never heard of, ask for clarification rather than assuming it is something else. Assuming to know something only leads to more work and more time wasted that could have been dedicated to completing the task at hand. The best way to avoid making assumptions is to ask questions whenever they arise. As a young professional myself, I sometimes hesitate to ask questions because I feel like I should know the answers. In reality, people don’t expect me to know all of the answers as I am a young professional constantly learning more about the industry through experience. So, ask the question!
This one may seem simple but hey, I think we have all pulled an all-nighter or two to finish an assignment. Typically, that assignment is not our best work. As we are building our portfolios and completing internships, it is crucial that we always put our best foot forward. This is the perfect time for us to find out what we love to do while also impressing professionals in our desired niches and roles. Doing your best will not only help you develop as a PR practitioner, but it will help you work towards securing that dream role. Just like professors, employers can tell when you are not supplying your best work. Even when your best may not be good enough, you can have peace knowing that you did everything in your ability to knock it out of the park.
If you want to learn more about The Four Agreements, check it out on Goodreads.
Cat Kalogeros is a communications and public relations double major at the University of Rhode Island. Cat is also pursuing double minors in English and writing and rhetoric. She currently serves as the 2021–2022 vice president of brand engagement on the PRSSA National Committee. Outside of PRSSA, Cat is the director of career and personal development for her chapter of Chi Omega. She aspires to use her public relations skills to tell stories in the entertainment industry. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.