This article originally ran on PR Daily in August of 2017.
For seven seasons, fans watched Leslie Knope shine in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”
Knope, played by Amy Poehler, was the lovable and eccentric director of the Pawnee, Indiana parks department. She led her team of misfits through the highs and lows of the small-town bureaucratic system, encouraged others to leave Pawnee better than they found it and inspired others to become the best versions of themselves.
If you wish you could make that kind of difference in your PR agency, there’s good news: You can.
Here are five ways to become the Leslie Knope of your office—and your PR career:
1. Encourage others.
Knope knew that a good leader is nothing without a great team.
No matter your position in your organization, showing appreciation to those who surround you creates a support system that can handle any overwhelming deadline or project.
Whether it’s reminding someone that they are a “poetic and noble land-mermaid,” baking cookies for your co-workers or lending a helping hand on a project, making yourself available to others fosters an environment of respect that carries through the toughest days.
2. Admit your mistakes.
It didn’t happen often, but sometimes even Knope made a mistake.
Honesty is always the best policy. Even if what you did was really bad (like throwing sacred Wamapoke artifacts into a pit to stop the construction of a Paunch Burger) own up to the misstep and fix it.
Connect with the members of your team to divide and conquer your response. That can help you stay ahead of the message and avoid a PR nightmare.
3. Stay true to yourself.
Madeline Albright—a woman honored on Knope’s Wall of Inspirational Women—once said: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
This quote is a great reminder to always stay true to a brand’s voice when you’re writing editorial pieces or social media posts.
It can also apply to your own voice: Stand up for yourself and make your opinion known. Your ideas and thoughts are valuable and worthy of being shared. Stick to your guns, but learn to make your communication style mesh with your co-workers.
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4. Work hard.
Knope was always prepared. She tried her best and worked harder than anyone else.
Working hard shows your clients that you value their organizations and care about their successes as much as your own. Make the most out of your day by prioritizing your to-do list. Never ever miss a deadline. Be open to criticism, and try not to make the same mistake twice. Stay organized. Be proactive when you have down time.
Showing commitment to your work will make you stand out and impress your client. However, don’t work too hard.
Stay flexible and welcome creativity into your work. Enjoy your vacation days and weekends and make time for friends and family. Perhaps most importantly, make time for the things you love (such as waffles).
5. Believe in yourself.
A positive attitude can take you far. Knope was the queen of positive self-talk, and having a go-to pep talk in your back pocket is never a bad idea.
You were hired because someone saw a light in you, so remember why you started and get to work!
These workplace tips may seem obvious, but an unapologetically positive attitude, persistent work-ethic and some homemade cookies differentiate the Leslie Knopes of the world from everyone else.
Whether you’re working through your fifth internal account team meeting of the day or connecting with a client, these tips can help you be the best of whatever you do.