Aubia Communications

3 PR lessons I’ve learned from travel

3 PR lessons I’ve learned from travel Hi. I’m Monica, and I’m a traveler.

I’m addicted to traveling. There is a high you get from planning a trip to getting in the plane/train/ship/car to arriving and experiencing all travel has to offer. I’ve visited more than a dozen countries and lived on three continents with an upcoming move to a fourth. With all this traveling, I was bound to pick up on a similarity or two about public relations.

1. Planning and flexibility are required 

Some of the best trips have been those where nothing went as planned. I’m a natural planner, always more at ease with an itinerary in hand (I blame it on growing up with a military parent). However, when plans go awry, you find unexpected treasures. I once had my reservation at a hostel in New York City cancelled due to a late arrival and I couldn’t find anywhere else to stay. I slept in my car for the first night and ended up exploring Philadelphia for the first time. It was a frustrating turn of events that led to my discovery of a wonderful city that I had no plans to visit.

As with any strategic communications plan, you need to have a structure in place to know where you’re going. However, as you evaluate your efforts throughout the process, you need to remain open to changes that can improve your program. Your Philadelphia could be right around the corner.

2. Communication is not and never will be one-size-fits-all

One of the biggest challenges of living abroad is learning and understanding different cultural norms. Moving from Brazil to Switzerland was a contradiction in terms at every turn. My husband and I went from a warm and open environment to a cooler and more reserved setting. We couldn’t just transplant our lifestyle in Brazil to Switzerland. We had to learn what was acceptable, what brought on concerned looks, and how to adapt to these changes.

With message development, you must have your target public in mind. Mass blasting out one message to a diverse audience isn’t going to cut through the clutter to reach them. Each message must resonate with the individual needs of your many publics. A Brazilian statement would never match up with Swiss expectations or vice versa.

3. Necessity is the mother of all improvisation      

When you’re away from home, finding your normal staples can be a difficult challenge. If you don’t learn to improvise, you’ll have to learn how to go without. Since cheddar cheese is a commodity almost never found outside the U.S., I’ve learned to make macaroni-and-cheese and tacos with everything from mozzarella to Gouda. Vegetable oil can replace applesauce in baking, and cinnamon sticks can be ground down for seasoning.

Many times, a PR budget is not all inclusive. You will need to find ways to achieve your goals with less. Maybe you can’t afford to do a national media tour, but hosting a series of virtual open houses and interviews through Google+ Hangouts can achieve the effect you need. Macaroni-and-cheese with mozzarella can make for surprisingly delicious cuisine.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
-Mark Twain

What similarities can you draw between your interests and PR?

photo credit: matt.hintsa via photopin cc

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2 Comments to "3 PR lessons I’ve learned from travel"

  1. It's says:

    Loved the comment about finding your “Philadelphia!” Maximum flexibility without going limp is the key to traveling as with almost everything. :) Hey, sorry but I’m from Philadelphia! I type this from Munich, our last day before returning home. :(

  2. Kathy, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. PR and travel are my passions, and I really had fun writing this. I hope your trip to Germany went well, and I’ll have to get some travel tips from you for my next trip to Philly.

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