Walking into my 2nd week working at a PR agency while also completing my Masters in comms, I was tasked with having to speak, actually verbally speak over the phone to journalists. As a 27-year-old reformed job-hopper, I thought I’d be okay with this, but it turns out it’s still a little bit scary.
For some reason, people around my age and younger seem to have an irrational fear of the main function of the device we all have in our pockets, a mobile telephone. Maybe it’s due to the fact that we have been growing up with a plethora of text-based platforms that we’ve forgotten how to use our voices.
As someone who used to be so afraid of communicating verbally to anyone other than their mum, taking a job with NHS 111, a service that last month received just under 50,000 phone calls a day probably wasn’t my brightest idea, however it taught me a lot.I’ve learned how to build a rapport with a stranger on the other end of the phone, how to listen to tone of voice and how to use audible clues to gather further context.
Probably the most valuable thing it taught me was to not take things too personally. It’s very easy to start believing the rhetoric when you’re called every name under the sun because you can’t send an ambulance for someone who has just stubbed their toe.
The worst bit? When the ambulance was required. More often than you’d think, people would call the non-emergency medical line instead of 999. Keeping calm in these situations was as hard as you’d think it would be.
When I call a journalist now or pick up the office phone, I just think to myself that no-one’s going to shout at me, hopefully no-one is bleeding everywhere and no-one’s going to die.
So my advice to anyone in my position, bright-eyed and bushy tailed but occasionally feeling like a rabbit in the head lights – relax. It’s just PR, it’s not life or death.