There are a lot of similarities between public relations and marketing, and raising a child. While I still have quite a few parenting stages ahead of me, here are a few lessons my 4-year-old daughter has reminded me about over the years.
PR & Marketing Lessons From a Baby
Time and preparation. Just as you spend nine months preparing for a baby’s arrival, it takes a lot of time and preparation to create a marketing plan and put it in to action. You need to figure out what your goals are, how you’re going to achieve them and start taking steps to get you there.
- General maintenance. There’s a lot of general maintenance you need to do to see a PR or marketing plan come to fruition. Sometimes it might feel like all you’re doing is writing social media updates, crafting blog posts and answering the same questions over and over, but like changing diapers and feeding a baby, these repetitive marketing steps are ones you need to take to grow your business’ online presence.
- Stimulation. Beyond the general maintenance, babies need age-appropriate stimulation, just like a business’ public relations and marketing efforts. If you only have time for general maintenance your company won’t grow and develop properly, so make sure your marketing plan has activities appropriately timed to try to stimulate growth.
- Patience. As you look back at pictures you can see how quickly your baby grew, but in the day-to-day it takes a lot of time and work. Something as simple as rolling over requires many little steps along the way. In the same way, your company won’t explode overnight, even with a successful marketing strategy. Be patient and remember you need to take one step at a time.
- Plans change. Anyone that’s had a baby can tell you plans don’t always go the way you want them to. If you want to leave the house at 3:30 and plan ahead to do so, your son or daughter might blow out of their diaper at 3:28, forcing an entire outfit change (and possibly other clean up). You just have to go with it. In a similar way, a marketing plan doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Sometimes certain strategies don’t work or turn out not to be practical when you thought they would be. Or something urgent might come up that throws you off track. Don’t get discouraged! Remember to take a minute to breathe, regroup and figure out where you’ll go from here.
PR & Marketing Lessons From a Toddler
Try, try again. I remember being constantly amazed at my daughter’s ability to get up and try again when she was a toddler. Even after she was able to walk, sometimes when she was tired she’d fall down more than usual, and every once in a while she would end up hitting her head pretty hard on something. After I’d pick her up and comfort her for a couple of seconds, she’d push out of my arms, ready to try again. Even public relations professionals make mistakes, so when you mess up, pull out your marketing plan, refocus and try again.
- Communication takes more than words. As with most toddlers, my daughter’s vocabulary was fairly limited at 14 months old. She could say a few words that my husband and I understood, but most people just heard jibberish. Still, she was able to clearly communicate when she wanted to be held, was tired, wanted to investigate something, etc. Think about what messages you’re communicating through your public relations efforts. Without words, what message is coming across? For example, high quality photos on your website or in your email newsletter show professionalism, whereas low quality implies a lack of competence and caring.
- Create a schedule. My daughter did well with a schedule when she was a toddler. While we tended to be fairly laid back and flexible, I knew that in general she woke up around 10am, took a nap between 1pm and 2pm and went to bed around 10pm. When it comes to public relations, a schedule is vital. Although you can build in some flexibility, it’s important to have a few specifics hammered out, such as knowing that each Wednesday you sit down and write a blog post so it can go live on Thursday morning, or making sure you log into Facebook once in the morning and once in the afternoon to check for fan engagement and reply to comments. At Three Girls, we recommend you create a general strategy every 6-12 months so you can evaluate what works well, what doesn’t, and refocus your efforts. Then, make sure you follow through on your plan.
PR & Marketing Lessons From a 2-Year-Old
Be helpful. When she was a couple of years old, my daughter loved to help. If she found some garbage, she’d run over to show me and then throw it away. When I changed her into her pajamas, I’d give her the dirty clothes and she’d put them in her hamper. When I asked her to do something, she’d say, “Oh, sure!” and run over to help. You should have the exact same attitude when it comes to your public relations campaign. When a journalist or social media fan asks for something, say “sure” and do everything in your power to help.
- Get your target’s attention and make sure your message is clear. Being 2 years old can be tough. Although you know what you’re saying, sometimes your message isn’t clear. Because of this, it wasn’t unusual for my daughter to run over to me, tap my leg until I looked at her and then tell me what she was trying to say over and over again. Similarly, in public relations, sometimes it’s hard to clearly convey your message to the right person. Although the methods are different, it’s important to catch your target’s attention and make your message as clear as possible.
- There’s always more to learn. The world is full of discoveries when you’re 2 years old. From the moon to the color orange, there’s a lot to take in. Similarly, when it comes to public relations, there’s always more to learn. In addition to keeping up with new technology, it’s important to stay tuned in to modern culture so you can reach the public in a way they’ll be receptive to.
PR & Marketing Lessons From a Preschooler
Ask questions. If you’ve ever been around 4-year-old, you know one of their favorite questions is, “Why?” But preschoolers know that asking questions is one of the best ways to learn important details. Why shouldn’t they answer the door without a parent? Why is it important to wash their hands thoroughly? By learning the reasons behind something, they have greater understanding of the world around them. Similarly, you need to ask your customers questions to understand them and their perspective better. How did they hear about you? How can your business improve? By regularly asking pointed questions, you can gain invaluable insight to reach new potential customers more effectively.
- Be creative. I love seeing my daughter’s imagination at work. In addition to pretending to be a chicken, caterpillar or puppy, she’ll combine them into a puppy that likes to fly, or a chicken that broke its leg. Is your public relations and marketing plan infused with creativity? Instead of doing something because it’s the way you’ve always done it, why not try a new PR tactic? Or, think about ways you can tweak your marketing strategy to make it stronger, such as adding more images to your social media updates.
- Communicate frequently. When I was little, my dad used to say, “If you don’t know what Emily’s thinking, you’re not paying attention.” The same is definitely true for my daughter. As soon as you walk into the room where she’s playing, she immediately jumps up and starts updating you on what she’s pretending to be or a book she just read. By communicating frequently, she’s keeping me updated with what she deems the most important information. It’s important you do this with your current and potential customers, too. What details do they need to know about to stay informed? Some of the best ways to keep them informed are regularly sending out an email newsletter, writing a blog post with all the details and sharing the message on your social channels.
- Repeat your message. Even now, my daughter isn’t always the best at following directions; it’s not uncommon for me to repeat myself four or five times at increasing volume until she listens. As with truly effective public relations strategies, it’s important to repeat your core message. Consumers need to hear or see something multiple times before they begin to remember it. Look at your marketing plan and evaluate your blog, e-newsletter, marketing collateral and social media pages. Are you repeating your message often enough? Mix it in with other helpful articles and tips so you don’t bore your audience with only self-promotional information.
Do you have kids? Can you think of any effective public relations and marketing strategies you’ve learned from them during different stages of their lives? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!