Welcome to my blog series "10 Questions With". It consists of weekly interviews with practitioners from the PR, Marketing and Advertising industry. My goal is to talk to experts, who have interesting opinions and can give valuable advice to young people, who are pursuing careers in those sectors.
This week's interview is with Joanna Drabent, CEO and co-founder of Prowly PR software.
Q1: What was your first ever job?
I remember it very well! It was a summer job in Cyprus, back when I was a student. I was employed on a construction site and my responsibility was grouting tiles. This was definitely an experience I will never forget.
Q2: Why did you get into PR?
It wasn’t intentional. Career-wise, my first dream was to get a job in the film industry. This is why I applied for an internship in a foundation which was organising film festivals. I guess it must have been fate that I got accepted to a department which organised a press office for one of the festivals. From there, things started happening quickly. Four years ago, from being the CEO in my own agency, I became the CEO of a technology firm, which is addressing its solutions to the PR industry. In retrospect, I don’t regret that my career evolved like this, as filming is now my hobby. I’m about to complete my first documentary soon!
Q3: What piece of technology can you not live without and why?
A camera and a video camera. I virtually can’t exist without these devices anymore. Can you imagine how many experiences would you miss throughout your life without the digital image that surround you every day?
And Prowly, of course, without which I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Q4: What is the most exciting thing about your job?
At Prowly, I am gaining new experiences incredibly fast. I entered the world of technology without much knowledge and with zero experience in running such projects. All I had was an analysis of what our target group’s needs were, after all – I was a seasoned PR pro. What is and will always be most exciting for me is keeping up with the things that determine our development. Every day, as a company, we are faced with new problems we must handle quickly and effectively, and each failure must be turned into a lesson for the future.
Q5: Who has been a big inspiration for you in the industry?
I draw a great deal of inspiration from my surrounding, but I’m always trying to diversify it. I love spending time with people who are completely different than me. Right now I’m working on a documentary about an 86-year-old person who means a lot to me and whose life experiences inspire me everyday. Relationships like this one give me a nice break from my everyday professional challenges (and there’s a bunch of these!) on the one hand, and on the other – the strength to fight these challenges.
Q6: Job hunting on social media – yes or no?
As a co-founder and CEO, I’m not really looking for a new job, but I think social media are now one of the key sources of applications in the recruitment processes we conduct at Prowly.
Q7: What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the PR industry since working within it?
Rather than a surprise, it’s a constructive conclusion for the future. Based on my past observations, PR pros focus more on finding solutions for external problems – that is, communication-related challenges of firms for which they work – rather than the problems they’re dealing with within the structures of their agencies or departments. We tend to do better about the second type of problems, but there’s still much work to be done if we want to effectively address such problems as measurability or the impact of technologies on the work of PR experts, by providing real solutions and not just never-ending discussions.
Q8: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the PR industry?
Do it, but only if you enjoy growing comprehensively. It seems to me that PR is one of few areas where you have to be prepared to acquire as broad a knowledge as possible.
Q9: If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon, what would it be?
Innovation. Innovation everywhere.
Q10: What advice would you give to your 18-years-old self?
I’m sure the first thing I’d say would be, “Girl, remember to always believe in your potential no matter what and always try to go the extra mile. The rest will follow in time.” I know it sounds like a cliché, but I do believe that many things that are stopping us from progressing in our careers – especially in the case of women – stem from nothing but low self-esteem. I often find myself thinking, “Shit, I don’t think I can handle this” – and I’m systematically trying to fight it.
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