I’ve grown as a businesswoman and a mother and a woman over the last few years, 2015 in particular was a year of growth for me. I can usually connect the discipline of public relations to most things in life, so I came up with a list of PR related traps that I believe relate to everyday life and will make 2016 an even more prosperous year.
- Smoke and mirrors will eventually settle, leaving the truth in plain sight.
Public relations is the ultimate ‘smoke and mirrors.’ Many people use public relations principles in their daily life, especially with the popularity of social media. Anyone can go on Instagram and promote the parts of their life that put them in the best light. No single person has a fabulous life every day of the year and your truths will be revealed. Those who major in hype will eventually be exposed. Not even the best PR practitioner can keep their client’s truth from coming to the light. And, no matter how bright your social media character shines, eventually your true persona will be exposed. Be prepared!
- The old way isn’t always the best way. Be able to transform with the times.
When I was in college, we focused on long lead pitching and sent press releases via fax. Imagine how uncomfortable I was over the last 10 years as social media replaced pitching and long leads became totally irrelevant to PR strategy. Having a PR practitioner on board in itself became challenged as social media became such a huge part of how information is dispensed. Many celebrities don’t believe they need anyone to manage their public image, because they have access to their fans 24/7 via their social media pages. Younger practitioners that attended college during the digital age began challenging the “old ways” of doing things. PR practitioners with little experience but the understanding of how to manipulate Instagram and Facebook became in demand. While some of my peers balked at change, I realized it was important to change with the times. This year, I am challenging myself to become even more adept at manipulating and maneuvering the digital landscape because it’s the way we directly impact culture and serve our clients.
- Exposure equals opportunity
Another change that just became the rage over the last decade is reality TV. Coming from the old school of talent being truly gifted people that worked really hard to achieve a level of perception that lead to fame, I was hesitant to celebrate the reality TV stars who populate Atlanta and demand the same type of adulation from handlers as the celebrities who’ve worked hard on their body of work. Although I still hold a level of admiration and respect for a great body of work, I, like the rest of the culture, have to acknowledge there is power and the opportunity to earn simply due to exposure. The Instagram vixen with a bad attitude and loud mouth who boasts near half a million followers may not have the same future as a gifted signer or actress, but she does have the ability to earn a living and could even get the chance to parlay her five minutes of fame into something much bigger. As unlikely as I was to believe it, online popularity and reality TV have created a viable shortcut to fame and fortune. Not everyone will be able to unlock the code, but there is a possibility to flip your short-term exposure into long-term opportunity.
- The message is more important than the delivery
A writer by trade, I’ve always been someone who carefully crafted the way I used words. I believe this ability has made me an effective publicist for athletes, entertainers, politicians and even a university president at one time. I am able to take crisis situations and use words to detonate their sting or impact. It’s exciting and it’s something I’ve realized I can do well, however, in 2015 with all the changes that social media has brought to the public landscape, I realize that the message is more important than how it’s delivered. In taking the time to craft a message, you could lose vital time in getting your message across. Flowery words are always going to be a part of public relations and life to an extent, what people will remember once the scandal is over, is your true intent. What message are you living to convey?
- Authenticity is key
2015 allowed me to get to know myself on a much deeper level. As many other female entrepreneurs, I’ve often prettied my words or turned a blind eye to unkind words from peers or even competitors. I’ve always worked to remain a positive, supportive influence especially for other women in business. 2015 was the year I learned that it’s OK for me to be unapologetically myself! If someone says something hateful toward me, or about me, it’s OK for me to authentically voice my opinion. If there is something I don’t like, refusing to address it does not avoid conflict, instead it creates internal conflict for me. Being authentic allows other to see your true self, which in turn makes them trust you more, but most importantly, it allows you to trust yourself.