Easily the single most momentous event that changed my life was becoming a parent. The whole focal point of my existence suddenly changed from looking out for numero uno to being a full-time caretaker for a tiny, loud and messy little stranger. Long gone were the days of spontaneous nights out, using the facilities at my convenience or eating meals like a non-inmate. However, adaptation and growth usually follow change- and my matriculation to parenthood was no exception.
I’m now the father of two young children. And as I look back over the lessons I’ve learned introducing those two miniature people to the world, there are many parallels I can draw to the world of Public Relations. Maybe because of my love for alliteration, they all begin with the letter P. So I’m calling them the 3Ps of Parenting and PR.
My kids are currently 4 and 1 (almost 2). This means we’re just now entering into the exciting and fun world of constant wars being waged on one another. My usual role as the mediator has taught me that the message conveyed isn’t always the message received. The receiving party will usually view the message through their own lens of “how this affects me,” which could potentially have some negative outcomes if there are any loopholes.
When crafting communications for a client, it’s always important to look at the message from all angles. How might your message be received by people with different viewpoints or attitudes? Be sure to remove any opportunities for the audience to interpret your message in any other way than its intended meaning. Spending a few minutes thinking this through before releasing your message could avoid the next big conflict.
Children are little crazy people. There, I said it. They have a hard time understanding (or caring) that there are other people with other needs, or that things don’t magically clean themselves every night after they go to bed. Most of the time, this is a non-issue. Kids are cute, and it’s easy to overlook their behavior. At least in the light of day. However, after a long day of work, and an even longer night of parenting that slowly stretches later and later into the wee morning hours, it becomes increasingly difficult to react with patience.
In the PR world, it’s a challenge to keep all the balls in the air- even when everything is hunky dory. However, when a crisis emerges, or when a sudden deadline materializes out of thin air, it becomes exponentially more difficult not to react out of emotion and frustration- which often leads to work that falls short of achieving the desired outcome.
Like good parents, PR practitioners must remain calm in the face of short deadlines and unexpected crises. Keeping a cool head when things get rocky will allow you to operate under pressure, producing well calculated and appropriate work that accomplishes your client’s goals. It’s always a good idea to take a step back and a deep breath before you react.
Becoming a parent is one of the most efficient ways I can think of to eliminate every second of free time from your day (and night). I used to enjoy reading books, walking trails through the park, and the occasional Netflix weekend binge fest. While it’s a far cry from pre-fatherhood days, it is still possible to spend some time here and there doing what I enjoy. The secret is thinking ahead to what needs to be done, then planning and prioritizing tasks to accomplish those said things, so once the kids are in bed, there’s time left to decompress.
The parallel to client work is clear. A diligent account manager will have multiple projects in the works for their clients. Maintaining an organized view of these projects and their deadlines, and prioritizing your time to meet each deadline, is essential- and might even help you create a little bit of downtime at the end of a busy day.