Forget strategy for a minute. Put tactics on pause. Forget leads, conversions and sales.
Let’s consider principles. I can’t say these will work for you, I can only say they have worked for me. I’ve titled them principles to succeed in PR, but they may well be relevant for those in other industries.
My seven principles are:
1. Our word is everything. If we give our word, we must keep it. It’s a choice. I tend avoid absolutes (never | always) in PR because there are *(almost) always* exceptions, but when it comes to our word, there are no exceptions. We either keep it or we do not, there is no in between.
2. Persuasion over manipulation. Critics might argue semantics, but I believe the contrast is stark. Aim to convince people your idea is so compelling it merits interest, rather than try to fool bloggers or reporters for a quick hit.
3. PR is a marathon, not a sprint. PR is not a quick hit. It doesn’t (usually) happen fast. It happens over time, it’s cumulative and it snow balls like momentum. Whether you work for a corporation or an agency, we must manage expectations to allow time for us to persuade.
4. Strive to treat everyone with dignity. General officers have this quality. Some CEOs have this quality. I think Gini Dietrich has this quality. I’ll be the first to admit, I fall short here and I do so often. We are all human. We get mad. We react. Flight or fight is instinctive to the degree beyond even a scientific understanding. But strive. Maslow’s hierarchy is the same for everyone.
5. Intellectual curiosity is paramount. There is very little we can absorb in a moment that will help; beyond the weather or traffic, there’s little in the news that will make us instantly smart, rather it is the aggregate, of reading over time that builds knowledge. We should read everything we can get out hands on. Read about business to build competence. Read fiction to spark creativity. Read history for context — sometimes the most successful entrepreneurs aren’t students of business, but students of history because they understand context. My iPhone is brimming with information. Apps to bring me content. Podcasts for news. Audiobooks for ideas. When we have a free minute we can add ideas or we can play Angry Birds.
6. It’s okay to make mistakes. When learning to ski as a young boy, my father used to say, “You have to fall down 1,000 times before you’re an expert.” It’s okay to make mistakes. Fall down. Break a leg. Reflect. Later, think though what went right and what went wrong — herein lies the key to improvement.
7. Do something you love. If going to work bears a big, black cloud over our heads, then it’s time to leave. If we don’t believe in our product, our service or our cause, if our heart isn’t in it, then it’s time to go. Mark Twain once said, and it’s one of my favorite quotes, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did. So cast of the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor. Let the trade winds catch your sales. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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