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PR Lessons From a Turkey

Author: Sarah Freeman
December 03, 2020

After I graduated from college, I moved away from my family in Austin to New York City. When I wasn’t able to fly home for the holidays, Thanksgiving was typically spent watching the parade for all of 10 minutes before heading somewhere to celebrate giving thanks with friends. Since my Brooklyn apartment was around the same size as a standard kitchen, the thought of cooking a turkey – let alone a whole meal – often led us to order takeout or, if we were feeling especially patriotic, McDonalds. 

Last year, I moved back to Austin to be closer to family. Although we are in the same city now, the pandemic has made it feel like we are still 1,000 miles apart – especially on holidays. 

This Thanksgiving was different from most years, and, like so many of you, where I would be, what I would eat and with whom I would get together was uncertain. But one thing I did know was that whatever happened, I was determined to be with good company (virtually) and, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, surrounded by good food. 

This year, as I worked to cook my first Thanksgiving meal, turkey and all, I was reminded of some valuable lessons throughout the process that we can all apply to our jobs as communicators. 

Whether It’s Communications or Holiday Meals, You Can’t Do It Alone

Preparing for and cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal alone is not feasible for most of us. Pre-pandemic, you could recruit help in the kitchen, but this year, that help took the form of ordering pre-made side dishes and relying on the canned cranberry sauce we all love to hate.

Similarly, in public relations, teamwork is essential for success. One of the great things about being at an agency is working and collaborating with others who have different experiences, backgrounds and expertise. Don’t reinvent the wheel – if there is something you are unsure of or an industry you’re unfamiliar with, chances are that someone at the agency can help. In PR, we all have the same goals but bring different skills to our clients. This teamwork allows us to develop out-of-the-box ideas and execute plans setting not only ourselves up for success but also our clients.

Plan Ahead

A successful Thanksgiving dinner really comes down to planning ahead. From figuring out grocery trips to cooking side dishes in advance, perfect execution comes down to perfect planning.

Although there isn’t always a real “playbook” for PR, having timelines, strategy and ownership in place ahead of time ensures nothing falls through the cracks as you work towards your client goals. In addition to providing strategic communications counsel, your agency is that extra set of hands you need to plan your campaigns with precision and execute flawlessly.

Innovate and Be Flexible

If there’s anything we’ve learned in 2020, it is that even the best of plans can be foiled by the unexpected. Was my first turkey a bit too dry? Probably. That’s why it’s always good to have a few options at hand in case something goes wrong while cooking.

In public relations, planning is important, but you need to leave room for flexibility. You can plan all you want, but there is no guarantee things will go perfectly. For example, you’ve drafted the perfect pitch for a client announcement, created a targeted media list, and shared the news, only to be met with no response. Head back to the drawing board, think through creative angles (this is where teamwork comes in!), research new reporters, and try again. Planning is important. but equally important is the ability to be flexible and a willingness to explore new strategies. 

Don’t Overstuff

Thanksgiving is a feast, a day to celebrate food with gusto. But each year I remind myself to enjoy without overdoing it.

In PR, it can be easy to find yourself in a “churn and burn” state of mind, tempted to pitch everyone anything and everything to see what sticks. As a PR professional, there is nothing better than seeing your client in a story, but it is important to not lose sight of our limits in the process. Mass emails for every pitch can begin to exhaust reporters and may make your emails look like spam. That’s why it’s important to build reporter relationships, read industry and business news voraciously, and take the extra time to do your homework and research a journalist to craft a personalized and targeted pitch. 

At Bospar, we’ve got rich experience across all areas of communications, and we partner with some of the biggest brands and disruptors to deliver impactful communications.

After all, WE aren’t turkeys.