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What PR Can Learn From, Ahem, Our Grandparents

the pr internIf you’re in PR, you may know that this weekend is Grandparents Day, and that this month will see the release of “The Intern,” starring Robert DeNiro as a retiree working as an intern for Anne Hathaway’s fashion start-up. It is in this spirit that we share some PR lessons we’ve learned from older generations.

Do more PR with less. If there’s one thing the younger set has heard repeatedly, it’s about how our elders managed to do with less when they were “your age.” The takeaway for PR really means: be prudent stewards of budgets for everything from a PR campaign to office management. One thing grandparents didn’t have were all the tools available today to help us save and manage money in business.

Be a better PR storyteller. Although our industry acts as if it invented this term, you know the best storytellers are often seniors. Here is what PR can learn about storytelling from the old masters – always have a beginning, a middle and an end (really!) Start with a “grabber”- a powerful “lede” to hook your audience and support with colorful anecdotes and examples. It’s not so different!

Recycle and re-purpose. Your grandparents may have come of age in the 70s, when environmental concerns made it fashionable to recycle household goods. For PR purposes we are talking about recycling good ideas.  Every PR person has that one favorite “big idea” that has stood the test of time and can resonate with a B2B or consumer PR campaign today. Keep a file of “good ideas” and use it to kick off brainstorms or to help you when you’re “creatively” stuck while crafting a plan. There are even some cheat sheets out there to help.

Get personal. When “50 Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson’s mom Melanie Griffith starred in her breakout film role in “Working Girl,” she knew how to work personal contacts. In a famous scene, she crashes a wedding just to glean some insider scoop to help finesse a deal. PR people need to get more personal too, and simply stalking a contact on Twitter isn’t what we mean. Make some offline friends with media and potential business partners, or crash a wedding of your own.

Don’t let “industry-speak” get the best of you. Ever hear someone of a past generation described as “plain-spoken?” You want to be that kind of communicator when explaining your company’s product or service. Too much jargon will confuse your audience and can actually date you. Terms that used to herald the latest and greatest become meaningless in time – used a telex or floppy disc lately? Just ask a grandparent.

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