When I first started as an account executive at Identity, I was concurrently working as the weekend manager at a local bar/restaurant. Everyone asked me how I was able to balance two very different professional endeavors, and I would simply reply they are in fact, quite similar and in many ways complement each other. Sound perplexing? Let me explain.
In both my PR career and at the restaurant, I spend the majority of my time proactively searching for opportunities to help the client/guest achieve their goals—be it the retooling of a public image or the ultimate dining experience. The ability to manage expectations and oversee projects with many complex moving parts and pieces is critical to success in both roles. Essentially, it boils down to clearly and effectively assessing client/guest needs and strategically determining the best course of action to result in the best experience.
In public relations, this could translate to pitching a client’s story to new publications, maximizing an earned media placement or facilitating a new internal communications platform. In the restaurant world, this materializes into tasks like suggesting something off the menu, stocking their favorite type of whiskey or adding candles to their table when it gets dark.
When making a parallel between a restaurant and a PR firm, think about it this way:
Waiter/waitress = account manager: the person who interfaces directly with the client regularly, counsels them on which effective strategies and tactics will help them reach their goal and oversees their day-to-day account activity.
Host/hostess = administrative team: those who answer phones, manage clients expectations by welcoming them to the office, schedule meetings and do all the behind the scenes work that keeps the place running smoothly.
Bartenders = the creative team: the talented graphic artists who concoct their own signature design elements and visions to complement the main course and ultimately reach the desired goal.
Kitchen staff = the collective media relations and social media team: the individuals who dream up and dish out masterful courses that fit what the client ordered, but strive to exceed their expectations with unique detail and unmatched creativity—producing a memorable experience and lasting impact.
At the end of the day, at their heart, both jobs center on customer satisfaction and delivering the best product and experience possible. From my experience, I highly recommend all communications professionals, at some point in their lives, challenge themselves in a similar way. It doesn’t have to be a second job; it can be a hobby, a class or a community activity that helps to refine critical PR skill sets allowing us to assess situations from a new perspective. It’s the spice of life that keeps us fresh.
I’d love to hear what you think of my analogies, please share in the comments sections below!