I can’t pretend that I don’t respond with amusement (and bemusement, for that matter) when a student says that he or she wants to do “entertainment PR.” I know it comes from our celeb-obsessed culture and they hope it means working on red carpets, setting up press junkets and coordinating with the personal stylist to ensure the dress and jewels are fierce.
This is the last in my countdown of New Year’s resolutions.
I love to read. I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on. I consistently read above my grade level thanks to my parents encouragement of my love of books.
Then grad school happened. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, academic reading and writing trumped reading for pleasure. Then my professional career. Then kids. Then… life. And, I kid you not, over the last 10 years, I’ve probably read two books a year that were totally and completely for my own pleasure. Half of those were probably audio books. I’ve read trade books, professional books, academic texts, too many blogs and articles to count… but reading for pleasure has definitely taken a backseat.
In the last five years, I’ve learned that I need input. In fact, it’s one of my top five strengths in the StrengthsFinder system. In crave input. I need it to feel strong and confident in my work. I’ve relied on the input from business, trade and academic press, but reading for fun is also part of that.
(You can learn more about how I feel about StrengthsFinder here. The short answer is that I love it.)
This quote from Stephen King, who often writes about writing, also resonates with me. I’m a writer. Strong writing is widely the number one skill required of a public relations professional. I’m working on a book and I (quite literally) write sun up to sun down in my day-to-day work.
Just about every New Year’s resolutions list includes exercise among the top ten. You can add my voice to the choir. Exercise seems like it belongs a personal improvement list, though, not a professional list. But here’s why I’m including it:
Exercise Boosts Brain Power
In the book Brain Rules, the first rule for making your brain work better is to get moving. Regularly. Like more than once during the day. Sit on a stability ball, get a standing desk, take a walk around the block. Just move. It helps you think, helps you retain information, spurs creativity – all sorts of good things, right?
I can be a little bit of a control freak. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist, per se. I’m really not. I have high standards, but I’m also ok with the idea that perfect is the enemy of the good. I do, however, struggle with the idea that someone else might be able to do the project in the same way that I can. Reality is that someone else can’t — but that’s not necessarily bad, right?
A colleague described trying to help me on a project as the pit crew watching a race car speeding around a track, just waiting for the driver to stop. The crew wants to help and has to hope the driver stops in time to get help.
If I can stop at the pits just a couple of laps earlier and give everyone time and enough info to get up to speed, the race will have a better outcome.
I’m looking at adding some different responsibilities to my plate this year and I need to give myself time to ask for – and get – help. Waiting to ask until I’m coming from a place of panic doesn’t help anyone.
People need two types of help — the first is when you don’t know how to do something and the second is when you have too much on your plate and need to do a good job delegating.
I struggle more with the latter than the former. I’m pretty resourceful when I need to figure out something new and tend to be able to recognize when I don’t know what I don’t know.
So my resolution is focused on doing a better job delegating and getting help to meet deadlines, project goals and my own expectations.
This is the second in my countdown of New Year’s Resolutions. If you missed the first, you can read it here.
I’m really, really bad at saying no. Really, really bad.
I like to say yes. I like to help. I like to do things I’m good at and I know I’ll do well. I am also very good at feeling responsible for, well, everyone.
And I will still do all of those things. But I must, in the name of all that is holy, say “no” more.
I have to remember that there are degrees of no. No doesn’t necessarily mean eff off. It may mean, “I can’t do that for you, but here are a couple of potential solutions.” Or, “I am not able to add that to my plate right now, but let’s brainstorm together over a cup of coffee.” Maybe even, “I’m not the right person to help you, but I know who is; let me connect you.”
So, here’s to saying “no” more! Or at least venturing into to “no” end of the spectrum.
This is the first in a countdown-style series of my professionally-oriented New Year’s resolutions.
I love to learn. I am insatiably curious, even when I don’t want to be (or have time to be!). I have a mental list of things that I wish I knew how to do but don’t necessarily have to for my day-to-day work. So this year, I’m going to start checking some things off that list. I’ll start with these two.
Kelli’s note: This is a guest post from one of my faves. I’m so proud of Samantha, how hard she’s worked and all that she’s accomplished in her career so far. Samantha Luthra is a Senior Account Executive at Bread & Butter Public Relations in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter.
I work for Bread & Butter Public Relations, a boutique hospitality PR firm with offices in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, San Francisco, and (my city!) Los Angeles. Our tagline is “We Tweet. We Drink. We’re Merry.”, and I can confidently say that is the best company motto ever. My clients include Bravo’s Top Chef contestants, local restaurants, chain restaurant brands, and food product lines.
Our office is located in Downtown Los Angeles, and we have eight employees. We do it all for our clients, and we thrive on getting results and having fun while we’re at it.
Bread & Butter PR LA is a girl’s club, and it’s not uncommon to hear us discuss a client’s event, The Real Housewives of Miami, and the latest Mashable article all within the same two minutes. I head up our social media division, Bread & Butter Bytes.
When I’m not battling traffic, my day includes creating social media strategies for clients, managing my team to make sure all social media activities are carried out, keeping up on emerging social media trends, and meeting with clients to keep up with their ever-changing menus, events, and developments. It’s a lot, but it’s a good time!
My entry into life in Los Angeles and a career in the LA food scene was a crash-course, but I’ve survived and have some takeaways:
Read It & Eat It – The only way to keep up on the ever-changing dining scene is to read, and try not to get too hungry. To keep up on food news, I subscribe to Tasting Table, Thrillist, Eater LA, LA Weekly’s Squid Ink Blog, and LA Times Food to get the latest. Then, I follow up on my research by making it a point to try new restaurants and go after new, slightly scary dishes. Uni, anyone?
Meeting Media – Sending an email pitch is fine, but having lunch with an editor is a much more fun and effective route to getting coverage for a client. Our PR account teams make a point to meet with media often, whether it’s for a lunch, drinks, or at events like Los Angeles Food & Wine. These meetings build relationships, and they always include tasty treats. Win!
Social Social Media – To stay in the know on social media, I keep up on emerging digital trends, use social media both for clients and personally, and have made a ton of friends in the industry. I’ve learned that bouncing ideas off of a friend is often where the best strategies come from. My favorite campaigns were created sitting at tables, sipping cocktails, and brainstorming/daydreaming. It’s important to keep the social in social. For the best social media brainstorms, I head to lovely restaurants like Gjelina in Venice or Little Dom’s in Los Feliz. All strategy is better with cocktails involved! I also Tweet about where I’m eating and tag the restaurants I like, which has helped me build relationships with chefs, restaurateurs, and food media.
It’s PR, not the ER – There are days when I am stuck in traffic, my hair is flat, I’ve spilled my coffee and everything feels out of whack. The most important advice I’ve ever been given is to relax, breathe, and think. At the end of the day, this is PR, and not the ER. (Same goes for social media, too!)