This article originally appeared on PR Daily in May of 2017.
What’s the secret to parenting?
Mankind continues to seek answers regarding the vexing pursuit of child-rearing, but I may have found a break in the case.
There’s no right way to raise little ones, and no proven methods of fostering responsible consumption of cookies or “Paw Patrol,” but it’s clear that PR pros have a huge head start when it comes to parenting. Public relations practices, precepts and strategies are ideal training for handling Planet Earth’s bumpiest, most confusing ride.
Here are five areas of expertise that make PR practitioners natural shepherds:
1. Dealing with and defusing crises. Parents deal with crises every day. Whether it’s a fight at school, an accident, a stomach bug or “Peppa Pig” not fully recording on the DVR, PR experts are well equipped to respond and reach an amicable solution. Children create crises like LeBron James scores baskets, so crafting a family crisis communication plan might not be out of order.
2. Managing difficult personalities. Most everyone in PR has dealt with a tyrant or two. Handling impetuous, hard-headed, selfish, insensitive adults is tremendous preparation for interacting with children, who are also not known for empathy and impulse control. Managing difficult personalities with tailored measures of carrot and stick is the name of the game in both arenas.
3. Reframing bad situations in a positive light. What do you tell a child when she doesn’t make the team? How do you explain that you’re not able to go to Disney World this year? PR pros know how to break bad news—with compassion, tact and clarity. That’s an invaluable skill when you can’t find a favorite toy or blanket.
4. Cleaning up messes created by other people. If your kids are like mine, they leave toys and clothes everywhere and toss plates around like every night’s a Greek celebration. You have probably dealt with companies suffering from similar disarray and lack of discipline and have had to (figuratively) whip them into shape. PR veterans know how to clean up a mess efficiently and, ideally, prevent it from happening again.
5. Providing counsel, encouragement, inspiration and coaching. The savviest PR virtuosi go above and beyond to uplift, educate and empower their clients. They take the time to help on a genuine, personal level to ensure sustainable professional success, instead of just scoring quick wins. Patiently providing counsel, coaching, encouragement and inspiration is a sizable chunk of the parenting gig.
Of course, this is just a sampler plate of what PR specialists bring to the parenthood table. Those skills in speech writing (“Say this when you apologize to your teacher…”), influencing policy changes, image management and hosting special events will also come in handy. Persuasive communication always helps, too.
Hopefully, your little clients are nice and not too destructive. Either way, you probably have them covered if they do end up needing some good PR.