PRovoke Media 22 Jul 2022 // 10:44AM GMT
After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be hard to quantify the ways in which we have changed. Our pandemic coverage helps us understand the industry impact, and it seems unlikely that any of our content has been untouched by the unique circumstances that have taken root since the start of 2020.
But so much of that change has occurred at a human level, where many of the lessons emerge from the various conversations and anecdotes that underpin our stories and events. To better showcase these learnings, and provide a measure of insight into how the global PR industry is responding to such a transformative era, this series asks people what they have learned, according to three specific areas.
In the latest installment in our series, we hear from Bospar co-founder and principal Curtis Sparrer, who during the pandemic learned the value of manners, gratitude and taking on Texas.
Three things I've learned...
Out of the 22,075,000 seconds in a typical lifetime, you must fundamentally appreciate that no one has time for this one thing: your bullshit. You read that right: no one has time for it. So adjust accordingly. Write in short sentences. Use white spaces liberally. And be entertaining! This might all sound glib, but how many moments have we trudged through that are low-energy bore-fests where no one smiles? Whether it’s emails, meetings, or pitches, we are all being slowly killed, so we must make these moments count. What most people don’t expect is that if you make people smile, businesses will reward you for it. Most people forget what you have told, asked or shared with them, so follow up judiciously and have the good manners to respond quickly when you hear from someone. In the spirit of valuing people’s time, don’t be vague; be direct, even if it hurts. It’s the true test of caring about others’ time.
I’ve thought of several pieces of advice that would likely get me fired. Here’s the PG-rated version of my favorite chestnut: you can’t get a hug if you’re too busy hugging yourself. Self-congratulatory PR campaigns have a remarkably similar trajectory: the witness protection program. Journalists are far more likely to include the aspects your client will find helpful if they are part of a larger thought-leadership campaign. Case in point: our 'politely-pushy' branding didn’t really come alive until we took on the Texas Abortion Ban. Often memorable PR goals are achieved indirectly through bold programs. I’ve found that high-stakes cause-related PR has a fantastic side effect. It makes your team better at nearly every form of PR, from campaign management to crisis communications. Without it, we would never have the media contacts or experiences that we have nurtured.
I often think of two historical events when I think of leadership: 'Mutiny on the Bounty' and 'Alive' (think cannibalism in the Andes). How can you be a leader and not have your colleagues mutiny – or eat you? My solution: adopt a stance of aggressive gratefulness. I send about 100 thank you notes a week. Sometimes they are immediate, especially if I see someone doing something late at night. Otherwise, they are weekly when I’m reflecting on how my life has been immeasurably improved by someone’s contributions. I also make sure I grant favors quickly and without conditions. Favors are the litmus test of any relationship. People are coming to you both in a position of vulnerability and trust. So if you want to nuke a relationship, come up with an excuse. Otherwise, take a cue from Christina Aguilera and be more like a 'Genie in a Bottle'.
If you'd like to share your three lessons, please let us know.