Saturday, May 28, 2011

Living the PR life...

The other day, I posted one of my funnier thoughts about the world of public relations with this:
I wonder what Captain Ahab's PR person would have done with him when the Society for the Protection of White Whales and PETA came banging down the door and posted about him on Facebook.
Now, those within the PR realm will laugh heartily at that because it's truly funny what the world of social media has done to public relations. First step in knowing anything about dealing with companies and social media is that simply, you have to make it work for you and pray with all your heart that someone doesn't come along and make it work against you.

I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "But Sheri, you're out of school for the summer, what are you doing posting about PR?" Well, I got a job working for a company in their Ad/PR department. I'm not going to go into who it is or what they do, sufficed to say, it's nobody's business except for mine who I work for. Again, this is part of playing the social media game, you have to know how much to release and what parts need to be played close to the chest.

For the last five weeks, I've spent my time working on message, PR strategy and overall image issues. This isn't like sitting in a classroom with Doc S.; this is the real deal, live situations and crises to deal with on a daily basis. I now know why it is that the average marketing manager has a shelf life of only two years at a company, it is a high stress position where every move you make not only counts, but counts in ways you can never imagine. If you do the job right, you can turn a potentially damaging situation into a triumph, but if handled badly, it can go south quicker than anything you've ever seen.

I'm now very grateful I have my usual sayings in my arsenal, the ones about making words kind, gentle and tasteful to Marcus reminding me that no matter what anyone else says or does, I must keep my color and do what I do best.

A lot of what I've been doing has been a lot of writing. I love writing, especially when I get to write about products that are worthwhile and a lot of fun to work with because the applications are so varied. It's a lot of problem solving, which I seem to excel at thanks to the gift of my mother's tenacity and my father's patience mixed with a dash of Nan's perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, along with a tad of my Myst heritage thrown in for good measure.

Have you ever had a moment that when you're doing something it feels so perfectly in tune with who you are that you can't tell where you end and what you do begins? That's what it's like for me to be neck deep in advertising and public relations. It's like some magical gift that I've been given that I can't help but seem to do well at.

As we've talked about before, Luke Sullivan in Whipple says, "Brand = Adjective." Well, what Luke didn't mention is that everyone has an adjective that is vital for us to know in order to communicate with others in a meaningful manner. As I said in another post, it took me forever to realize that my adjective was "inspires." Think about it, in some way, shape or form, the things I do inspire in some small way. That realization helped me a lot when I deal with people now because I know that my tone and excitement about subjects I talk about with people can inspire them to make a choice. Hey, it's one of those things, part of being in Ad/PR is about a "call to action." You have to inspire people to move in the direction you want them to. Ok yes, part of being in Ad/PR is also about being a great BS artist, and let me tell you, when I'm not having to write press statements, I'm as truthful and matter-of-fact as I can be because I can't stand carefully crafting my words for the rest of my day.

But it goes back to things I've learned in life along the way as well. I think Doc Cat would be proud of me for remembering that no matter what, if people aren't ready to hear the message you're putting out, they're not going to hear it. Then I remembered that I can't control the universe, no matter how hard I try, that there are those who just aren't going to go for the message, no matter how kindly or gently I put it, no matter what context I put it in, some people aren't going to dig it. With those, you just have to throw up your hands and walk away because you realize if they don't get it, they never will, no matter how well you explain it. There are a million ways that a message can get lost, the key is prepping the audience for the message, then delivering it with flawless execution.  I've learned that before you say a word, you have to have a game plan to back it up because it takes planning and a lot of coordination to pull it off right.

Right now, part of me feels like one of Hermes' delivery girls with the winged shoes, hastily delivering messages and hoping that the people I'm delivering them to are ready to receive them. The other part of me feels like an ancient scribe, writing for the sake of history and making sure that when someone looks back, they'll feel what is happening now just as it is.

Much less to say, for those who are curious, for the last five weeks, even though someone did show some interest, sorry guys, however I may wish, I've got no dates to write about because I've been working. I've had a live crisis situation that I've dealt with, cited the Tylenol crisis handbook and came out with a press statement.  I even impressed my boss with my handling of the situation.  So I feel like I've had some major victories, and it seems as life is shaping up just right.

This is the moment where I can look in the mirror and ask myself, "Where the hell have you been?" because I finally feel like I'm on my way to becoming person I've always dreamed of being. I might have a few extra pounds, but today I looked in the mirror and was proud to be me. Actually, I just looked in the mirror, smiled, nodded and went "Yeah."

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