PR 101 – Prepare For Your Plans to Fail!

May 19, 2017

Ever think you’ve got a foolproof plan in place, with everything mapped out perfectly? You’ve dotted every ‘i’, crossed every ‘t’, and just when you think things are coming up roses, someone or something comes along and takes your pretty little plan and smashes it to smithereens. No? Well then you haven’t worked in PR long enough.

In this crazy, fast moving profession we’ve chosen to make our own, planning is mission critical to setting our clients up for success and helping them achieve optimum business results. We plan out quarterly strategies, media outreach campaigns, social media calendars, speaker bureaus…you get the point. But here’s the thing about work, and life – sometimes things just don’t go according to plan.

Case in point: An article based on an extensive email Q&A with a top-tier reporter went live promptly at 7:01 am ET last Thursday morning, aka 5am in Denver. Woof. The article posted, the article was flagged, the story turned out great. But given the title of this blog post, you have likely already inferred that wasn’t the case. The client emailed us at 5:55am to let us know his peccadillos with the piece due to an accurate, but not preferred, description of the client’s product. To quote him directly, “[the CEO] is going to have a cow!” All hail our team that sprung into action to track down the reporter. See, she had just flown home from a few days in Vegas, so naturally she was catching up on some much-needed sleep. And even though it took a few nail-biting hours to hear back, we finally did and the reporter happily made our requested edits. All was well with the world once again. But so much for thinking we had it in the bag! Phew!

Second case in point, because why not regale you with a first-hand account of my latest brush with upended plans: Last week after a quick would-be day trip to Seattle, my travel buddy and I (hi, Holly!) missed our 7:45pm flight back to Denver. Missed the door closing by mere minutes. But here’s the kicker. We arrived to the airport with ample time to spare. Since we had a couple hours, though, we sat down to enjoy a meal before hopping on our flight home. Then next thing we know, we’re full-on sprinting to our gate, which we didn’t realize required a tram ride to reach…oy. With my bag full of Barokas Communications tchotchkes literally ripping apart Kevin McCallister-style, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at our ridiculous blunder. Admittedly, I did a little of both.

Anyway, moral of the stories here is that sometimes, even when we put together the most detailed plans for our clients (or ourselves), things can still fall to pieces in the blink of an eye. But it’s at precisely these moments where we can prove our value for clients. They put their trust in us and when we’re confronted with obstacles, the onus is on us to be flexible and pivot when and where we need to at any time. Sometimes there’s something we’ve missed, like where our airport gate is actually located…blerg. Sometimes, there’s a force out of our control, like a rocket that doesn’t launch on time or an article that doesn’t please your client like you’d hoped. Whatever the circumstances, in business and in life, we have to be agile. The world is a complicated place, and we humans can be really dumb sometimes, so it’s good to be flexible and open minded about things. Instead of having one plan, have a few, and revise as necessary. And remember, unexpected turns are always the best learning experiences. Think I’ll ever miss a flight again?! Not this girl.

– Jen

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