UBC Day 15: Drinks Anyone?

I just realized that some of my friends have no idea what it is that I do. They know that I am in PR. They see that I am never really “off the clock” as I’m responding to messages and tweets even when we’re just out for a girls’ night. Last night, one of my friends joked that this was what it must be like to be in PR, you know, going out for drinks for a living.


Snickering aside, I realized that my friends really don’t know what a professional communicator does. And part of that is my fault. I share the fun “glamorous” stuff – the parties, the events and cool people I meet. I don’t really get into the behind the scenes work that happens: the development and planning; the hours of calls and emails; or me banging my head against the wall. They never hear about the detailed communications plans that I write for six very distinct regions. They think I go for drinks, and hold the occasion press conference… that is followed by drinks.

Our value as professional communicators is constantly challenged and the onus is on us to ensure that we get the respect that we deserve. PR’s dubious beginnings with the likes of consummate showman and scam artist, P.T. Barnum doesn’t help. Over the years PR has gotten a bad wrap that has likened PR pros to the old snake-oil salesmen traveling from town to town.

The next time you are faced with the question of what it is that you actually do, share this:

UBC Day 12: Can you Defy Gravity?

On my way into work, I was listening to the soundtrack for Wicked, one of my favourite musicals. The song Defying Gravity never fails to inspire me and, if you’ll pardon the Bette Midler reference, put some wind beneath my wings.

If you’ve seen this musical you know this is a pivotal part in the story where Elphba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. But the story, and this song in particular, is about playing by your own rules and carving your own path. This is what we do in PR. We carve out our own path to get our message heard.

Have you defied gravity lately?

UBC Day 11: Wild Cards

Have you ever met your hero? Someone, that as a child you idolized?

What was it like? Did you get star-struck or take it in stride? More importantly, did they live up to your expectations?

Expectations are a tricky thing. They are not tangible; are purely subjective and can sometimes bite you in the ass.

Think about your most recent PR campaign. Did you plan out what you were going to do with an end goal in mind? That’s an expectation. I will do this and expect that this will be the result. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen and you are left scratching your head wondering what the heck just happened.

I can tell you what happened. People. People are the wild card in every campaign. We can use research and our best tried and true methods, but people are a sometimes predictable and sometimes not.

So what’s a communicator to do? We need to manage expectations. Others, as well as our own. Under promise and over deliver. Then you’ll be the hero.

UBC Day 08: Old School PR

In line with yesterday’s post about how PR is everywhere, today I volunteered to hand out some flyers at a local event to promote an upcoming bout for my new roller derby league. This is PR at its most basic… and it’s very effective.

How many times have you started a campaign detailing out how you will promote online through social media sites, your website, online newsgroups, fan sites and email newsletters to get the word out. How many times have you created a print advertising campaign to coincide? If you’re like me, you do this all the time. But when was the last time you mobilized an actual team to do some grass roots campaigning?

We’re so focused on the new. We get excited to communicate with audiences through social media. We have conversations. We measure impressions. But much of the people we touch through these methods are already aware of what we do. Something as simple handing out flyers allows you to reach new audiences. Grass roots communication is a powerful tool that often gets left behind when we’re planning because, let’s face it, taking the time to do something such as handing out flyers is, well, time consuming; as is recruiting volunteers.

Creating social media and advertising campaigns are more time efficient as most outward messages can be scheduled, but the advantage of going grass roots is the physical interaction with the audience you are targeting. Conversations happen. Impressions are made.

Sounds familiar?