Dad’s Wisdom Makes Great PR Advice

For Mother’s Day 2018, we reported how mom’s wisdom makes great PR advice. Dads clamored for their say. Most of our fathers’ advice probably went in one ear and out the other — as a dad would say. As we approach Father’s Day, let’s stop and recognize how a dad’s sometimes patronizing, always wry nuggets of wisdom can be applied to the practice of public relations.

7 Dadisms that make great PR advice

“You’re not going out dressed like that.”

Dad was trying to say that you don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention, and the same goes for brands. Even if the executive spokesperson — usually the CEO — is naturally charismatic and confident facing the media, she should never venture into the public eye without media prep. Only counsel, simulations, and practice can prepare an inexperienced spokesperson for possible adversarial, ignorant, or inexperienced reporters. For PR tips on successful media training, see our earlier post.

“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”

It’s not ER, it’s PR. If a prominent tech reporter paints your company in an unflattering light, sometimes there’s nothing the PR team can do to prevent the fire. While we all sweat it while it’s happening, there’s no crying in PR. Time moves fast, and a good PR agency will advise action in proper proportion to the damage, always with an eye on the long term image of the brand. For a deeper dive on dealing with a negative PR situation, see our earlier post.

“I’m not sleeping; I’m resting my eyes”

While dad was surely sleeping at your piano recital, the news never does. Brands cannot afford to ever be napping, especially when mentioned in a negative light – or in a full blown PR crisis. Much of the time, a company spokesperson needs to address a crisis, especially if at fault. But there are also times when it’s the best tactical move to reserve comment. See this earlier post for a PR guide to strategic silence.

“My house; my rules

One of the all-time dadisms isn’t so cut and dried when it comes to the PR agency-client relationships. It serves no one if the PR agency are “yes men,” bowing easily to a client’s ill-conceived idea. Being honest with a client in a difficult situation is not only mandatory, but the key to a trusting, transparent relationship. To learn how to tell a client they are wrong, see our earlier post.

“Don’t spend it all in one place”

Certainly, money was a touchy subject with dad; but imagine how charged the subject can be with clients and agencies. Companies naturally want to maximize PR activities for the budget, but sometimes the wish list will exceed their resources. In the agency-client world, PR pros sometimes have to remain steadfast about sticking to budget limitations, and will need to advise the client what tactics are expendable: which award entry to omit, what research survey can wait, or which release to not put out on the wire.  

“Nobody said life would be fair”

PR people cannot control the media. Sometimes, a journalist may write a story that contains minor inaccuracies (which are not necessarily the reporter’s fault) or misrepresentations — or inexplicably jump an embargo. Stuck in the middle of an unfair situation, the PR team must sometimes absorb the criticism for such issues while simultaneously struggling to correct errors. Either way, PR pros tend to develop a thick skin while enduring the ups and downs of the media relations game. Dad would say it’s “character building.” For tips on maintaining media relationships under pressure, see our earlier post.

“A little hard work never hurt anybody”

Wise words from the man of the house. If you’re considering a career in public relations, be prepared to juggle and hustle, and don’t expect a 9-to-5 existence. There is no unplugging or auto-pilot in PR; one must constantly work to perform for clients and build long-term, fruitful relationships with media. The news has never moved faster — nor has been more competitive than it is today. PR is hard work, but winning results can feel amazing.
Little did we know, father was a sound PR practitioner. We at Crenshaw wish all the dads out there a happy Father’s Day!  

Mom’s Wisdom Makes Good PR Advice

good PR advice
Who knew that when mom was dispensing her pearls of wisdom that she was preparing you for a public relations career? In case you never noticed, moms generally handle PR duties for families. They’re the most concerned with public perception, social responsibility, and community relations. The truth is, our moms’ teachings apply to virtually every aspect of life. In honor of Mother’s Day, we celebrate how some of mom’s classic guidance makes for sound PR advice.

“Mom-splaining” maxims make best PR practices

“One day you’ll thank me.” It’s a phrase every child has heard and none have believed. But mom has her eyes on the future, so she doles out tough love. Like a seasoned PR pro, she sees the big picture and is more concerned with long-term outcomes than immediate rewards. Like a top-flight PR team, a good mom is never a yes-man. It’s no good for the client or the PR firm if the client insists on a poorly conceived tactic or activity. The PR team must be trusted advisors  – the type that have the confidence to tell you what you don’t want to hear, but need to know. Check out this post to find out how to tell a client they’re wrong.

mom's advice best PR advice
“Always use sunscreen.” The glare of media attention can burn if you’re not careful. It’s all about thinking ahead and being prepared. Whether your PR team secures a keynote speaker gig at a conference or a TV interview for your CEO, media and message training are key. Going into an interview with no knowledge of the reporter or outlet can end in disaster, especially in a corporate crisis. PR pros don’t make a move without slathering on plenty of research and careful consideration. For a deep dive on media training, see our earlier post.

mom's good PR advice
“Sit up straight. Learn to behave.” Mom knows a bad reputation will follow you wherever you go, whether deserved or not. She’s also aware that a negative image has more far-reaching ramifications than mere embarrassing whispers in the hallway. She wants you to conduct yourself in a manner befitting a good citizen in order to get jobs, have friends, and fit in. Similarly, corporate reputation is no longer an abstract concern for businesses; today, it’s likely to impact their market cap. There’s an actual and measurable dollar value represented by corporate reputation. Finally, mom’s advice to “be yourself” is her way of championing authenticity – another powerful force in corporate PR.

good PR advice“Play well together and share.” Kids usually need to be taught that chores are easier when shared, and some never learn to share their toys with good grace. But life is a collaboration, and that includes working in public relations. A lot of PR fingerprints can be found on a single piece of client work. When we get a client win, no one player deserves to stand on the podium. It’s a team sport, and teammates should share the toil, the glory, and, when things go awry, the blame. Mom knew that sharing wasn’t just about generosity for its own sake; it’s a work and life skill, as in this post about six steps to better media relations.

good PR advice
“Honesty is the best policy.” If you have a sibling, you likely blamed them at some point for something you did. Sometimes it might even work — for a while. But ultimately, the lie probably got you worse punishment than the deed. The same honesty a PR pro uses to push back is useful in admitting when he’s wrong. Honesty and transparency are themes in all aspects of good corporate communications. Truth earns trust, whether in media relations, coworker connections, or client partnerships. A quintessential rule of crisis communications is a swift and sincere admission of responsibility, followed by a make-good. When your mom taught you to fess up, she was preparing you for a career where transparency plays a role.

As the brilliant 2014 video PR campaign by American Greetings demonstrated, the job of mother is the world’s toughest job. Without her lessons on wearing sunscreen and not entering the pool after eating, PR would be a tougher job. Happy Mother’s Day 2018!