It was Labor Day weekend at the Hall House, and on that Saturday morning I walked down our steps, looked at our oldest child Teddy, and the ever-popular Instagram voiceover from the Lion King sang from my mouth – “it is time.” It was time for us to ditch diapers and welcome ourselves into the world of potty training.
Leading up to that weekend, and for nearly a month after, I was immersed in the world of research, big boy undies, accidents, and extra laundry. Now, nearly two months post-diaper surviving, I mean post-diaper ditching, I’ve lived to tell the tale and I can’t help but see parallels into the how so much of the process relates to public relations.
Whether you’ve crossed this bridge with kids, or you’re just looking for some potty entertainment, let’s take a flush into four ways public relations is like potty training.
- Conduct research. Potty training is not for the faint of heart. There were signs Teddy was “ready” to get started, but before we could officially put the diapers away, I had to do my own homework. I spoke with fellow mamas in my close circle and spent weeks in bed scrolling through resources, my phone illuminating my face as my husband peacefully slept. Feeling confident, I found the book I was going to use as my guide and let that be my strategy for potty training.Just like I took the time to figure out what potty training method seemed like the best fit for my son, it’s important to research before beginning your next public relations campaign. Whether it’s around a rebrand, event, or major announcement. You want to gather with your team, discuss your top priorities, find your non-negotiables, and really come up with a game plan to execute a flawless strategy. Not sure where to start? Schedule some consultations with experts to get their advice.
- Be prepared. After a week, my research was complete but now we needed to prepare ourselves, and home, to execute. We pulled together supplies, bought the underwear… lots of underwear, the toilet seat ring, extra pants, and extra laundry pods. One key takeaway from the book I read was to give myself two weeks from finishing the book to starting. Those two weeks are vital to prepare.The same goes for your company’s next PR move. Count back several weeks from launch/execution date and make sure you give yourself ample time to prepare your strategy, edit, and tweak. You want to make sure all your ducks are in a row – quotes are ready, media lists are built, product photos/videos are taken, press releases are reviewed and drafted, etc. Nothing good comes from a rushed PR push, but don’t take too long or you may pee your pants, I mean miss your window of opportunity. (I told you potty humor would be included!)
- Have grit. The potty training book we followed was a three day process – learning to go with no clothes on, then wearing just shorts aka commando, then introducing underwear with your clothes. Day one and two went amazing, no accidents (is it really this easy?!) then day three came and it was… challenging. We literally took two steps forward and one major step back. But we stuck with it and by the fourth day everything clicked!Although we didn’t see the results right away, our messages were sinking in. And that’s ok! Make sure you give your PR campaign plenty of time to work before changing your strategy. Conduct your outreach, follow up, and trust the process. Public relations can be a slow and steady approach, so be diligent and stick with it. Continue to build those relationships, make phone calls, set up coffee briefing meetings with your top list of journalist, and continue to share your messaging on your own social channels.
- Recognize small victories. Potty training is a process, just like public relations. You aren’t going to see all the results on the first day, so it’s important to recognize the small achievements as they happen. Did your Facebook page get substantially more followers than last week? Did a columnist write about your business? Were you featured on Instagram by a top influencer? Did I only have to wash out one pair of dirty underwear?Even though you may not have achieved the intended end result yet, notice the smaller milestones and use them to encourage yourself and your team to continue forward. I often try to remind myself that if an accident happens, it doesn’t mean I’m a crappy mom. It’s just one obstacle in a rather excellent week.
A successful public relations campaign requires research, preparation, grit, and recognition of small victories – just like potty training! Can you think of other ways these two activities are similar?