PR Parables: Rookie PR mistakes no one warned me about!
31st January 2018
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
What an apt quote and yes, the reason we choose this topic was just so that we could get to hear the experiences of our fellow PR colleagues so that the common refrain of, “I wish it need not have happened in my time", can be controlled, to some extent.
Once again, we applaud and thank all those who shared their views on PR mistakes they made as a rookie PR pro.
It's been a while since I was a "rookie", but when you fall and learn, those lessons are for a lifetime. What I learnt during my PR agency stint was a simple and straightforward lesson. It's just that no one told me about this aspect of being a PR pro. The learning therefore was serendipitous. So here it is.
My quick tip is that when servicing a client, always and always ensure that just because you are starting out, it doesn't mean that your reach into the client team is restricted. Be alert and ensure the the client CEO sees you, hears you and gets to know you and your contribution to his account. I ended up being paranoid about this and this is one lesson which pretty much became the leitmotif of my leadership style.
Coming to the young PR leaders here's what they have to say.
Nirjhara Rastogi cautions us saying, “Don't believe in everything your manager says", and I second that with a thumping vote. Thank you Nirjhara for that very practical advice and clearly this is a tip which is something all of us can take heed of.
A very candid and from the heart comment from Richa Mehta. She says PR pros, especially in the beginning, have limited opportunities to help drive the client's brand image.
Richa writes, “I stepped into PR thinking that we will be responsible for the brand’s image. But almost four years into PR, and we just do what client asks us to do, be it strategies or campaigns. Although have worked with accounts who do want us to drive but it is a very limited case in the industry. “
Richa adds that, “There are also situations when you get trapped in between the journalists and the clients. To give you an example, which most of you will relate to, which is pitching for interactions or stories and getting a buy-in after aggressive follow-ups only to be declined or missed later by the client. It sets you off with the journalist so much because the client wants coverage but isn’t ready to brief or share when the opportunity comes."
Moushumi Dutt’s Take: “In essence what she shares is largely what this profession is all about. There is some dissonance and lots of power struggle, between the client and the consultancy."
On crisis management
For Gaurav SIngh, he wants his young PR colleagues to know that, “A crisis is bigger in one's head than in reality. PR Professionals need to understand, crisis communication is an inevitable part of this profession and hence every time there is a crisis , it isn't the end of the world. Keep calm. Deal with it. And think before you act.“
Moushumi Dutt’s take: “Gaurav, you are bang on and I can't begin to tell you the fake syndrome around a crisis is often a far bigger issue than the real crisis. And now that you have brought this up, I hope all of us take heed of your endearing advice " keep calm" .And yes it is always a good idea to " think before you act". Let's do that, people."
Don't ignore your mails!
She says, “ After a decade in PR ,and even at times now, I toil to put a process around storytelling but allow me to share with you that no one solution fits all. If I could travel back in time I would jump forward to the following learnings:
- Be open to un-learn- Don’t exert the same success formula to every communication objective you come across.
- Be a Jack of all trades- Don’t be too quick to pick your favourite. Make sure you grasp and practice all the communications’ essentials every time, it is important not to forget the basics.
- Acknowledge that some things can be out of your control- Don’t be hard on yourself. Outgrow your success and learn from failures.
- Acknowledge every e-mail – Read, understand, calendar (if need be) and acknowledge emails."
Given that there is nothing like a rookie pass over phase, and even the most seasoned and senior communications people go through many a rookie moment in their life, let's keep talking and sharing.
Moushumi Dutt is a senior corporate communications consultant
Our next PR Parable topic is the challenges of pitching for PR business. Send you thoughts, comments and views to firstname.lastname@example.org