What is it like to work in PR?

Chances are you might already know.

If, “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get,” then working in a PR agency is at times like being quadruple sat five tops during the dinner rush – demanding, exhilarating and ultra-rewarding.

If you work in PR, but didn’t pick up on that jargon, then you’ve probably never worked in the restaurant business.

If you work in PR and have also worked in the restaurant business, I am not surprised.

Throughout my PR career, I’ve found myself comparing PR agency life to the restaurant business. At first, I thought it was the result of my personal experience waiting tables to pay for college, but as I now manage a team of PR pros at all levels, I’ve come to realize a large portion of people in in this business originally joined the workforce in the unforgiving trenches of the restaurant world.

Sure, working in a restaurant can mean great hours, fast cash and free food, but it can also mean high levels of stress, rude customers and late nights. The restaurant business, just like PR, isn’t for everyone. However, it seems that if you can hack it in a restaurant, then you might be well-suited for a career in PR.

Do you strive in a fast paced environment?
Do you work better and smarter under pressure?
Are you a master multi-tasker?
Do you have the uncanny ability to adapt to any given situation?
Can you talk to anyone about anything?
Can you take constructive feedback like a champ?

Are these requirements for a PR job or a food server? The answer: both. Here are some observations about the restaurant industry and those who have a passion for PR.


Call it customer service or client relations; these are service-oriented professions. Not all clients or customers are the same. Each one has different needs. PR professionals have many customers: actual clients, the media, their account supervisors, VPs, agency partners or owners – the list goes on.

Regardless of the client or customer, it is essential to have clear verbal communication regarding expectations. “Have you dined with us before? Would you like to start with an appetizer?” – these questions perhaps don’t carry the same weight as “What are your business goals?” or “What is your deadline?” but all are important to establishing a successful working relationship and positive experience moving forward.

In both businesses, non-verbal cues are equally important. Hmm…these kids seem restless, I will put their order in first; wonder if there is something wrong with the meal, he’s only taken one bite. In PR, it’s more along the lines of…my client is looking very uncomfortable talking to this reporter; I will cut in and bridge to a new topic.

Crisis Communications.

Inevitably there will be a crisis situation. Whether the kitchen forgot to tell you to 86 prime rib after selling it to an 8-top, or you’re doing damage control on a product recall, the best restaurant and PR pros remain calm and are solution-focused. Unfortunately, a free desert can’t fix a PR crisis.

Work Environment.

Whenever I get asked what I love about PR, the answer is always the same: it is NEVER boring. It is fast-paced and ever-changing. There is always a new pitch angle to develop, partnership to forge, Instagrammer to follow or industry to explore. I am thankful for the opportunities a PR agency career has afforded me. I’ve been able to learn about so many different industries and businesses: e-commerce, retail, grocery stores, pet food, cheese, beef jerky, cookware, paint, cabinets, fragrance, diamonds, lighting, carpet, hotels, tourism destinations, real estate, non-profits – the list goes on.

Similarly, every day is different in a restaurant. Walking up to a new table is always a new experience with new personalities – a new opportunity to give great service.

Of course, there is always a table that comes in just before the kitchen closes or an urgent email that pops up as you’re walking out the door.

Feeling the pressure.

Stress is inevitable in a restaurant. Tickets start piling up, the kitchen gets backed up, customers sit down angry after waiting 45 minutes for a table; one wrong move can put you what feels like light years behind schedule.

Pressure and PR do go hand-in-hand, but those who are successful in this business thrive when the pressure is on and turn out amazing results. The busier it is, the better work you do. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows that even the best servers can give sub-par service when it is slow. Why? Because they are a little bored and they thrive in the chaos.

When clients put the pressure on and challenge the team to achieve a new goal that is when we are the most creative. We dig down deep because we want the results for our clients. It is in these high-pressure situations that the rewards far outweigh the rocky road that sometimes leads you there.

The Rewards.

Well, these industries do differ quite a bit when it comes to the obvious benefits such as hours, salary or travel requirements. However, when it comes to lifestyle PR, you have to believe in the product, brand, or destination that you’re promoting and that means trying things out for yourself –definitely a huge perk. That said, in the restaurant industry I also had to know what each dish tasted like to make genuine recommendations to customers. Let’s just say I was not a “starving” college student.

In both industries there is always the unexpected run-in with a high-profile celebrity or influencer. I’ve had the privilege of working with TV personalities, reality stars, celebrity chefs and actors, but my favorite encounter was in the restaurant, when The Simpsons creator Matt Groening gave me this special thank you on the back of a receipt.

Alyssa_June PR


If only your restaurant shift ended when your last table pays the bill. In most restaurants, side-work is required: rolling up silverware, filling condiments, cutting garnishes, wiping booths, cleaning menus, and restocking just about everything. Side-work is a necessary restaurant evil; it keeps things neat and tidy, customers happy and overall ensures a smoother shift the next day.

The pulse of a PR agency is similar: media lists, reporting, updating bios, meetings and conference calls. Not the most fun part of what we do, but a critical element nonetheless. One could argue that the best agencies are the most organized. The more efficiently you can do your side-work, the more successful the whole staff or agency will be. I can say at LHG we have our side-work down to a science.

“I’m a people person,” says every PR candidate.

Both restaurants and PR agencies allow you to work with and encounter a variety of people: of all ages, backgrounds, personality types and experience levels.

At the end of the day, your best assets can be the ability to strike up a conversation and most importantly be a good listener.

Is it required to be an extrovert? No. But being relatable, reliable and confident are qualities hiring mangers look for in both industries.

In addition to variety at the customer level, the team of people you work with on a daily basis will leave lasting impressions as well. I have to say, I work with amazing people!

Team mentality.

At the end of the day, we all get in the weeds and hopefully a team member is there to run your food, or take an order.

While everyone has distinct roles, there’s always team member to offer assistance.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or thinking about a career in PR, if LHG sounds like the team for you, send us your resume. LHG is always looking for passionate candidates.

And, remember, it might not be a bad thing to keep your college serving job on your resume.