Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and while most of the focus will be on flowers and Sunday brunch, let’s not forget why we celebrate: To appreciate Mom and all she ever did for us.
That includes the lessons we learned. And although most of them were just to keep us from being rude, there’s actually a lot which can be applied to the day to day of public relations (PR). Consider the following motherly maxims:
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all
- Don’t talk with your mouth full
- Respect your elders
- Don’t slouch
- Clean up after yourself
Now, on the surface, it may seem hard to see what any of this has to do with PR. But each of these lessons is crucial in the world of public relations.
If you don’t have anything nice to say…
This one should actually make a lot of sense. If you or your company is speaking to the media, don’t spend your time lampooning the competition. That will only make you look petty and will do more harm than good.
Instead, always take your time with the microphone to promote your key messages and your products/services. There’s no need to go on the attack.
Don’t talk with your mouth full
When addressing the media, don’t just answer questions if you’re not ready. When you’re chewing food, even if someone just asked you a question, you’d wait until you were done chewing, swallow, and then respond. Do the same with the media.
If a question is asked and you need a moment to think about before replying, take that moment. If you need longer than that moment, feel free to let the reporter know that you will think about it and get back to them. There’s no harm in shooting off an email answer later, especially if that answer is the right one and not something off the top of your head.
Respect your elders
Although this maxim seemingly helps just older individuals, remember, when your mother said this to you, everyone was older. So the real message here is to just respect others, period.
And that goes for everyone you may work with or encounter. If you are a spokesperson for your company, do your best to be plesant and polite. The impressions others make of you, especially those in the media, will bleed into the overall impressions of your company and what it does. So don’t just blow off interviews or be rude if the reporter is late to yours. Show everyone respect and they’ll respect you back.
You should always be looking to make a good impression. If you are speaking with the media in person, do your best to look your best. People may not want to judge a book by its cover, but if you don’t handle yourself in a professional way, it can skew the view of yourself and your company.
Always err on the side of looking nice and being professional. Do this for in-person interviews, and make sure to have a nice updated head shot to share for any phone interviews.
Clean up after yourself
Did you or your company just make a mess? And it doesn’t have to be a literal one either. You don’t have to spill millions of gallons of oil to find yourself in a bad situation. It this day and age, it’s all too easy to stick your foot in your mouth and then share it with millions.
If you should find yourself dealing with a sticky situation don’t just curl up in the fetal position and hope it goes away. You’ve got to address it and face it head on. Don’t delay and give people the chance to speculate. Draft a statement and give it. Own up to your faults and don’t pass the blame. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s why pencils have erasers.
What advice did your mother give you that you find applies elsewhere in life?
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