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 to avoid absolutes, such as “never” and “always” in PR because there are always exceptions, but when it comes to our word, there are never not 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 between persuasion and manipulation.
If you build a reputation on manipulation, contrived news, and at the expense of others, you might earn the distinction of going bankrupt twice over.
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 snowballs 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. They can listen to you and give you the idea you are the most important person in the world for a moment.
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.
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.
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 through 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 is attributed with having said:
“Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did. So cast off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor. Let the trade winds catch your sales. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
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