In my own wild and wonderful world of PR, I have been privileged enough to fly to various exotic locales to meet with clients. In the process of doing that, I have — at times — spent countless hours in the cramped quarters of an airplane instead of the cushy confines of a leather chair in a conference room.
While recently sitting in the middle seat nestled snugly betwixt a dude with a case of body odor that could cause ice to melt and a baby dealing with a bad case of teething, I got to thinking about this week’s edition of #5Things.
It had to be timely, relevant, and help me calm down enough to reconsider causing a scene by trying to cut a hole on the side of the plane with my neighbor’s armpit steam.
Here, then, are the 5 Things that Air Travel and Working in PR have in common.
1. Getting Up With Nowhere to Go.
You have been in a tin can flying over numerous states for hours…and then you finally land. The seat belt lights turn off and instantly 300 passengers stand up as if they are planning to make a speedy exit.
But you’re laughing because, while you sit calmly in row 27, you know those other dupes are standing all hunchbacked for absolutely no reason other than to stretch their legs. PR can be like that too: your client calls an important meeting; you clear your entire calendar to make yourself available. And why? So you could attend a meeting to plan another meeting for next week. At times, you move the world only to wait much longer. Learn to channel your Zen, folks — and try to enjoy the ride.
Describe flights in one word: “fees.”
You pay for everything, and by the time you get on the plane to enjoy your 2.5 inches of breathing room, you are devising a plan for how to transfer air miles to this line’s competitor. Meanwhile, you are flat broke until that expense check comes in. Clients be that way too, right? They want to get results, but they don’t always want to pay those less-than-welcome invoices. It takes a lot to operate an airline, but all the passengers care about is getting from point A to point B. Sure, paying all those fees sucks out loud, but think about that the next time your client says the same thing about you asking for “a project fee.” All they want is to get “point B.” It’s hard out there for an airline…and a PR pro.
3. Managing Expectations.
Whether they say “It’ll be a bumpy ride” or “There seems to be a problem with the electronics,” we just want to know something!
How many times have you sat in a plane on a tarmac for a couple of hours…waiting. No, not the resolution of the long, painful delay. I mean you wait for any explanation of why in the hell you are stuck sitting there along with 200 of your closest, angriest friends. The next time you aren’t finding much success or even getting many return phone calls from that pitch, be the flight attendant: pick up your phone and notify the passengers as to just what is going on.
They will be grateful for it — and who knows, maybe you will be as well.
Flight delays. Sitting in the terminal. Bumpy flights. Rude passengers. Your money is missing. And for your trouble you get…a lousy bag of peanuts.
We feel you. Countless PR pros — good ones, mind you — leave the agency life for some highfalutin corporate gig almost every day. You don’t blame them for jumping ship because of that nice check and, on the one hand, you’re happy for them (on the other, envy green really isn’t your color). You work 50 to 80 hours each week, and while your paycheck does the trick, how often do you feel like you’re sitting on the plane looking for any leftover crumbs because you’re still hungry?
We understand…but think about that check next time; it’s much more filling than a bag of Planters. Gratitude goes a long way in this business.
5. The Waiting Game.
All right, PR peeps, repeat after me: “Hurry up…and wait.” We all know that line…and why? Because it happens everywhere.
Take the last time you were running late for a flight. You commited 27 traffic violations trying to get there and ran like O.J. (pre-White Bronco days) in a Hertz Rental commercial to get through the airport.
You respect the TSA guidelines advising you to arrive 13 hours early…and for what? A flight delay and a need for one those deep Swedish massages. Working with the media can be like that: your clients want results yesterday so the pitching begins, and you only to have to wait three weeks before your first sniff at an interview. Therein lies the rub: yes, you waited three weeks for a call back (or a few hours to get to your destination)…but when the finish line is in sight, you find that the whole trip was (mostly) worth it.
Keep that in mind the next time your life seems like it’s on hold. Sometimes, good things come to those who wait…