PR in the Wild: Parallels between PR and My African Safari

January 18, 2016

Last December, I had the privilege of spending two and a half weeks in Africa. An animal lover at heart, I had dreamed of going on a safari since I was young. Last year, after a bicycle accident that required surgery and months of recovery, I decided it was time to stop thinking, “it sure would be nice to X, Y and Z when I have more time,” and do it now. A few days later, tickets were booked and a couple months later, off we went on our great African adventure – first stop: the spectacular and breathtaking Sabi Sands.

Sabi Sands is home to some of the most awe-inspiring animals on the planet including the Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino. While I was trying to not think about work while on vacation, like any PR person, my mind wandered in that direction – but all for a very good reason. The similarities between Mother Nature and the PR industry were so obvious, they were hard to ignore.

Here are a few parallels from the wilds of Africa, supported by some of my favorite photos from the trip:

Protect your territory

Lions in the African bush fight to their death to protect their territory. Like these mighty beasts, PR people are territorial – and often to an extreme. We will invest every resource and ounce of energy we have to battle off something that could damage a client’s brand or reputation. One of the most moving things I experienced on the safari was hearing a lion’s deep, rumbling roar echo across miles of the savannah at night. This sound perfectly represented the passion and fierce attitude that marks a PR pro – day or night.

Lion

 

Protect your offspring (aka clients and teams)

As the owner of a PR agency, I admit it. I’m protective over a lot of things – our team, clients, reputation, quality of work – the list goes on and on. These elements make up a PR pro’s offspring, all of which require care, nurturing and feeding on a daily basis.

Monkey

 

Say Cheese

If there were a top five list of rules for PR, I would argue that staying calm, cool and collected, even under the toughest of situations, would be number one. And while nobody wants to work with a legion of grinning robots, keeping a smile on your face and a positive attitude goes a long way in building confidence and trust with teammates and clients.

Zebra

 

Downtime is a necessity

PR is a fast-paced, high intensity profession that can lead to burn out if you don’t make time for some R&R and your favorite activities. For me, it’s traveling, swimming, biking, running, and weightlifting that keep me centered. Oh, and the occasional lazy day – it’s cheetah approved.

CheetahSleepingLion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t just scratch the surface, look below it

Unbeknownst to most, hippos are extremely unpredictable and dangerous animals. These creatures are highly territorial and fast on their feet – they can run nearly 20 mph for a short distance. However, it’s easy to see how one can be fooled. A hippo’s eyes and ears peeking out of the water create the perception of a mellow, docile animal. The hippo reminds us to ask questions, do our research and look below the surface before coming to a conclusion about a situation.

Hippo

 

Enjoy the adrenaline rush

Ask any PR person what gives them the biggest rush and they’ll tell you the same thing: scoring a big hit or glowing company profile for their client. This exhilarating feeling surfaced over and over again on the safari. Feeling an elephant’s breath on my face as it wandered by two feet away is nothing less than pure magic. And I must apologize to the herds of deer that visit my yard at home – you’ve got nothing on a kudu.

Kudu

Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch out or you might get screwed 

We’ve all had it happen. That time when your exclusive doesn’t hit or a client’s quote is taken out of context. While we do everything in our power to prevent these situations, it’s a good reminder to always have a Plan B in place to circumvent an unexpected circumstance.

Buffalo

 

Keep your eye on the prize 

And last, but not least, PR pros must remember to keep their eye on the prize. Like other professions, PR can be a challenging one if you’re not a master multi-tasker or comfortable working in an environment with constant change. For me, keeping my eye on the prize comes in the form of landing a high profile new client, securing a top tier story, or recruiting that perfect candidate to the team. Now if there were only tigers in Africa. #eyeofthetiger

Leopard

 

Totsiens,

-Karli

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