Our mothers have our best interests at heart, right?
Well, by and large.
Occasionally they let us stay up too late, or filled us with sugary products; they were late collecting us from school or failed to sign an excursion consent form.
But overall, mothers are there to protect and nurture and teach us. They defend us against the world and encourage us to put our best foot forward.
This is where your mother is like a PR consultant (and fathers for that matter – this post applies to all parenting figures).
I’ve previously written on the definition of PR. More recently, it’s occurred to me that mothers and the public relations industry have a lot in common.
Let’s start with relationship management.
My Mum regularly encourages me to stay in touch with my brother. “Have you spoken to him lately?” she’ll ask me urgently. She gently prods me to reach out to him, to visit or phone, or otherwise check in. She also asks after my father (yes they’re divorced) and tut tuts if I haven’t seen him lately. She’s aware of the importance of maintaining family relationships – if you don’t stay in touch, how can you care for each other? How can you be sure that you’re all okay?
It’s the same with PR consultants and their clients.
We look out for our clients’ relationships and urge our clients to maintain a conversation with those who matter to them. We’ll build a stakeholder list with clients. We’ll check they’re keeping in touch with customers, for example. We’ll ensure they’re listening to and nurturing their employees. If they are in danger of letting relationships lapse – well, we may like to quietly tut tut – but around meeting tables, we’ll remind clients that communication is important and that an ongoing strategy is essential. You can’t let these things lapse.
Like our Mums, PR consultants want our clients to make new friends.
So we provide them with plenty of ideas – ideas for networks they could join, events they could attend, meetings they could invite people to. And we can hover in the background, if they like, making thoughtful introductions and being on hand to help through any awkward moments.
Like Mums, PR practitioners may also provide advice on a client’s public persona, brand and appearance.
Mums ask us to straighten our clothes, tie our laces and brush our hair. They are conscious of appearances.
They tell us to smile and be friendly (and not to point at other people, amongst other obscure edicts on manners).
PR professionals can have input into the look and feel of a new logo, office space, website design, event set-up and so much more. It’s related to brand persona. It’s a recognition of the value of first impressions and the massive impact an appearance can have on how we relate to each other.
Remember this, the next time somebody asks “what is public relations?” PR – like many dear mothers – is focused on helping you maintain important relationships, protecting reputations, growing new networks and ensuring you have friends.
Now, don’t forget to brush your teeth.