You know you’ve worked in an industry long enough to own it when you find yourself drawing parallels to your professional life during off-hours. Halfway through the summer, I’ve been making up for my hours spent hibernating last winter by traveling to new cities, living out of a suitcase and getting a feel for life in other parts of the country. By no means should I be thinking about work when I’m hoping I catch my next flight or taking the first few turns of a 500-mile drive, but in some aspect, I usually am.
This doesn’t mean I’m tied to my inbox or sacrificing my vacation time. Rather, spending my days creating marketing and PR content tends to tune me in to the process for other companies, in other industries and using other mediums. It’s no secret that PR and travel have much in common, but it’s always interesting to see how the comparison plays out in your own explorations. After the first few times you propose a press release strategy or facilitate a media interview for a spokesperson, you start noticing how carefully brands and people in the public eye choose their words and consider the results of their actions on a daily basis.
There are skills at the core of any successful PR campaign that you’re likely already building on your own. Below are a few that supported me in my recent travels.
Researching – Maybe your friend who’s playing host has to work on the first night you arrive in town, and you go out in a new city with no sense of direction. Content creators and PR pros alike know they have to do their research and mentally file some favorite local spots, just as they would while executing a media outreach strategy.
Multitasking – Although multitasking is possibly the most common superpower of most PR pros, it can be surprisingly detrimental whether you’re working with clients or relaxing on vacation. If you’re trying to cross off every item on your to-do list at the same time, you may limit the quality of the work you produce – and the experiences you enjoy.
Storytelling – How do you make new friends and catch up with old ones without a slight inclination toward this skill? When a trip gives you a limited time to share stories and get up to speed, you need to know how to earn your audience’s attention and keep them involved. Crafting your clients’ brand stories is no different.
Seeing the bigger picture – Traveling can be the worst. Your planes will get delayed, the weather will give out, but you can’t let minor issues stop you from achieving your vacation goals, whatever they may be. PR pros need to keep a constant eye on the end game and consider how every action supports their clients’ business objectives.
Adjusting on the fly – While I was at the beach in South Carolina, my kite surfing lessons got cancelled, so we rented jet skis and went out on the ocean. Our extended trip to Savannah, Georgia would have taken longer than expected, so we re-routed for a weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. This ability to make decisions on the move and approach them with flexibility was one of the most relaxing parts of the vacation, and it’s one of the most reliable skills you’ll find in every PR and marketing pro.
Pitching – The first few people I see after any trip are usually subjected to a brief account about why they need to put my latest destination on their to-see list. Whether you’re pitching editors on behalf of your clients or pitching a new project to your managers, every marketing role will benefit from your ability to highlight major benefits and communicate a point in a concise manner.