6 Public Relations lessons I’ve learned from moving
Growing up as an Army brat and then pursuing a career and lifestyle that have taken me to many locations, I have moved about 15 times in my life. As I prepare for yet another move, this time to Switzerland, I look back at how these multiple moves, domestic and international, have made me a better Public Relations professional.
1. Pack tight.
I haven’t always had the luxury of professional movers, so I’ve experimented in the many ways you can pack boxes. From securing small breakables in egg cartons to stuffing glasses in shoes, you learn that if you don’t pack a box tight, you’ll have a collapsing mess on your hands. As in media writing, if you don’t keep your copy tight and concise, your audience is left with a sloppy and dissolving piece that doesn’t stick.
2. Keep organized.
When packing, I keep an inventory of what each box contains, using a numbering system. When in storage, it’s more convenient to find that favorite scarf by knowing exactly what box it’s in than opening every box labeled “clothes.” Like organizing your speech writing into logical and easy-to-remember points, it’s much easier for your audience to recall your message than if you just based it on a general theme with no structure.
3. Depend on the experts.
I’m lucky enough to have a great dad who has helped me with many of my moves, and his work in Customs gave him an expert knowledge in moving. Without his know-how and learning from him how to wrap my most fragile pieces, I’m sure most of my moves would have ended up with me in tears over shattered dishes. In PR, we often have to be a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none and need to rely on the experts in a field. Working with these experts allows us to develop accurate messages for our audiences to explain our clients’ business.
4. Always have a friend with a truck.
Moving is always made easier when you can make it a social activity. I’ve had many friends in my life to help with the moves, and we’ve made some lasting memories from these times. If I hadn’t built these relationships prior to moving day, though, I would have been alone to do the heavy lifting. In pitching the media, if you haven’t developed that working relationship with the reporter prior to the pitch, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to receive the assistance you need in telling your client’s story to the larger audience.
5. Lighten the load.
Moving is an ideal time to clean house. When I have used professional movers, I’ve been charged by the weight of my possessions. You never want to pack stuff and be charged for additional weight that you’re just going to throw away upon opening in your new location. This same idea can be applied to your writing – why add extraneous material that will just end up in the trash bin of your audience’s memory? Keep it direct and get rid of the stuff that’s just going to weigh down your copy.
6. Manage small.
You might think packing all your books in one big box is a good idea until you try to move that box. It’s near impossible. After packing up my library of near 200 books in four large boxes, I learned this lesson the hard way. By re-packing into many smaller boxes, I made my moving experience a much better one. When reaching your targeted audience, keep the information manageable by cutting it down into small pieces. Not only will this help you in your delivery, but it will also help your audience recall the message.
After much practice, I’ve got moving down to an art. Using these tips in the career field has also brought much success. Try them out in your own work, and let me know how it goes. What lessons about PR have you learned in other areas of life?