Turkey, Stuffing, Pie and Public Relations
Published on November 19, 2018, at 3:40 p.m.
by Reagin Edwards.
Halloween has passed, Christmas decorations are hitting the stores, and there are even some radio stations already playing Christmas music. There is one holiday that seems to go overlooked year after year. That holiday is Thanksgiving. In a few weeks, families will come together, sit at a table and enjoy a feast that likely took many hours to prepare.
I can’t help but notice that my family’s Thanksgiving day often mirrors valuable lessons that public relations practitioners can implement when it comes to client interactions. I’m sure a lot of people also find their Thanksgiving dinners create similar stress that PR professionals often experience on a daily basis. So, how can we take the activities from a holiday and use them in our careers to make it less about the stress and more about the good times?
Just go ahead and break the wishbone
We all love the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce combination. But what about something new? The tradition that surrounds this November holiday is important to a lot of people. However, sometimes what leaves the biggest impression is when someone does something new. Maybe make a new dish or try a new venue — Thanksgiving is always at grandma’s house, so why not take it to Aunt Terri’s house this year?
It won’t hurt to jump outside of your comfort zone from time to time. In PR, why not change the status quo? Pitch something new, or go above and beyond to impress your boss by doing something out of the ordinary. A Fortune.com article noted the importance of taking risks in your job: “… as you become more comfortable with taking risks, you will start to take on opportunities you never thought were possible.”
Sometimes you have to take the risk to learn something new. This doesn’t mean to blow through your budget, but your clients will take your innovative attitude as a win, and you can be the one that reminds them why they invested in PR.
No extra cooks in the kitchen
The more the merrier, right? Wrong. Sometimes having too many happy helpers can create even more stress and disagreement. No one likes family feuds during the holiday season, so why even make it a possibility? Asking for help is one thing, but when you get overzealous cooks in the kitchen, with opinions on everything, it becomes a recipe for disaster.
Assigning certain tasks and keeping track of who is doing what task can become overwhelming. No one wants to forget that the sweet potato casserole is still in the oven, or, in PR terms, no one wants to send out a press release before it is approved. A Huffington Post article outlines some basic guidelines for how to cooperate with difficult co-workers: “Don’t let the micromanager fool you. … Each morning, give them a rundown of what you’ll be working on and follow-up with notes at the end of the day. Whenever possible, let them know what you’ll need from them to support your efforts.”
The micromanager in your family can also be handled the same way. The commotion of everybody helping all at once can cause unneeded and unwanted mistakes, so it’s best to politely tell people to go watch the Thanksgiving day parade on TV, or to go work on another project while you are making things happen.
Plan the menu
This concept seems simple but can often prove to be rather difficult. You might find that you have more luck by writing down a to-do list or grocery list for the pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping. No one wants to make a last-minute trip to the store on Thanksgiving just before the family arrives. It can also help remind you which guest is bringing what dish … no need for extra green bean casserole (Gross!).
For PR professionals, it’s sometimes easiest to draft up plans or ideas for different strategies. Whether it’s a new pitch strategy, an upcoming launch or a looming crisis, it cannot hurt to plan ahead for every outcome. Take the time to plan out your week and make sure you are updating your agenda when necessary. PRNews.com has an article that perfectly outlines the questions you need to be asking yourself. What are your goals and future plans? Take a look at key events — how can those help or hinder you? What could possibly go wrong? What can you improve on?
Planning ahead can help keep you from wigging out on the big day. Try asking some of these questions when you are planning your Thanksgiving activities. Eliminating all chances for disaster can help you keep your sanity. After all, you want to try to remain as sane as possible, especially when your crazy family is about to all be under one roof.
It’s all about having fun and being thankful
Ultimately Thanksgiving gives us a day to enjoy time with family and friends and to eat good food. It shouldn’t be a hassle to spend time with loved ones, and you should enjoy every step from preparation to clean up. The day may be long and you might not adore every member of your family, but you will be thankful that you spent the day in good company.
Public relations is just like that. The days can be drawn out and you may not get along with all of your co-workers, but the hard work and diverse group you surround yourself with will pay off in the long run. Plus, you will never be bored because PR is constantly changing. Between the events, the news, writing styles, social media enhancements and pitching techniques, there is something new to learn almost every day. Ragan’s PR Daily also touches on some of these perks in its article “10 things to love about public relations.”
Thanksgiving may only come once a year, but public relations is always happening and always relevant. These lessons can be applied all year long in the PR industry. As far as the advice on how to handle Thanksgiving, rest assured that after the day is done, you can unbutton your pants after eating several full plates, enjoy some Thanksgiving day football and take a nap. Your job is done! But with my PR brain, I would go ahead and start planning for next year.