08 Nov Conflicted in my childhood career choices
These days, the only job that seems to keep me interested is the one that combines quite a bit of disparate activity. In PR, we are part counselor, salesperson, troubleshooter, secretary, creative, mediator…you name it and we do it. As a kid I wasn’t much different. I had two main career aspirations – surgeon and go-go dancer. In some ways, dissection and dancing go hand in hand in the public relations business – so maybe I’m not that far off from my childhood dreams.
When I was 4, remember it was the sixties and go-go dancing was all the rage. I had the COOLEST pair of patent leather go-go boots, and the shimmeriest shiniest mini- skirt you’ve ever seen. Me and my friend Sheri would practice go-go dancing on the stone wall between our houses for hours. This is not unlike the activity involved with a pitch. Dress it up, make it snazzy, tap dance your way onto the phone with an editor and then hit ’em with your jazz hands. (Everyone, do your jazz hands now. You know you want to.) That’s the outward appearance of PR to most people. We’re glad handers, salespeople, we add the “ta da” to the “to do”.
But in reality, there’s quite a bit more surgery involved than people are aware of. First, we have to cut through the outer layer of the media…that which is on the surface has been planned weeks and often months ago. You can’t pitch a story that will run in January on October news, although many people think that’s how it’s done. No…you have to carefully dissect the different layers to find out what’s being written about now, what’s been written in the past, what’s planned for the near future and what might be interesting down the road. Down the road is usually where our sweet spot lies. (This is for the majority of PR people who do not work with Kim Kardashian, the Miami Dolphins or do crisis communications.) Going deep to find out where we can position our story is what the best flacks really do. The surface stuff is left to those who usually just coordinate.
Sometimes I still think about becoming an entertainer and sometimes that does involve dancing around the house. The last time I danced in public my husband thought I was having a seizure, so I’m realistic about my chances (zero). As for becoming a surgeon, I’d like to think that a doctor of PR-ology. You can call me Dr. Wax. Go, go girl!