My mother does not work in public relations. When I chose PR as a major in college, I had to sit both of my parents down and explain to them what I was planning to do with the rest of my life, using phrases like “It’s kind of like advertising, but not at all…” and “no, I’m not a reporter, but I work with them on a daily basis.” (I’m proud to say that they now know exactly what I do and can explain it to anyone who asks!)
Even though my mom does not work in this field, she has taught me so much about the world of PR – probably without even realizing! In honor of Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday, we wanted to show how classic “mom-isms” influence our everyday lives in the world of public relations.
- “Always send a thank-you note.” – When I was interviewing for jobs after college, I sent a handwritten thank you note via snail mail to every person I interviewed with for a position because my mom had taught me that one of the best ways to make an impression is to write a thank you. Now in my career, I practice this same courtesy by sending a thank you email to every journalist I work with on a story. A quick “thanks, it was a pleasure working with you,” goes a long way. The next time your name pops up in their email inbox, they are more likely to recognize it and respond.
- “If you don’t have it, you can’t wear it.” – Of course mom was usually referring to bringing a coat on a crisp fall day even when you didn’t think you needed one, but being prepared for anything is always important. I know PR professionals who have given the blazer off of their back to their client minutes before they went on air at a morning show. We’re expected to be the most prepared person in the room – whether that entails bringing enough media kits to a press event or always having the right answer in a client meeting.
- “No one ever said life was fair.” – And she’s still right! In the world of PR, you have to roll with the punches. At any moment, your perfectly planned day can be derailed by a media crisis or opportunity. Sometimes you have to stay late at the office or work on the weekends. This may seem unfair, but when your client is featured on the cover of TIME magazine (yes, this really happened!) or your event goes off without a hitch, it’s all worth it.
- “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” – That means treat everyone with respect and kindness. PR practitioners have to communicate with different people every day – clients, co-workers, the media etc. We represent the brand(s) we work for, so we have to always have a positive attitude and a vast knowledge of our client and their company. A smile or a nice note goes a long way.
Who knew that the (sometimes) annoying mom-isms you heard growing up could help you be a more effective PR professional? So thanks mom, and Happy Mother’s Day!
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