Humanizing Your Work-Face to Strengthen PR Relationships
A recent article on sports website Grantland analyzes the difference between two polarizing, hall-of-fame basketball players, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Both are known as maniacally competitive highly idolized athletes whose drive led to huge success. One of MJ's most memorable moments is him sobbing in his locker while clutching his just-won championship trophy on Father's Day, his first championship since his father was brutally murdered. Kobe on the other hand, has never let his emotional guard down in such a public display. We know Kobe has to feel something., but he chooses not to show it. Because of this, we as consumers of his public image feel like we're being ripped off. How can we relate to another human, a public figure that we idolize, no less, with no feelings? For this reason, Jordan is more idolized partially because he showed enough of himself publicly for people to understand his full story.
The same yearning for storytelling applies to the PR industry. We've evolved into a society where we care about what a public figure does outside of business hours, whether that's being a gym rat (here's billionaire Mark Cuban taking interviews on a Stairmaster) or showing you have a sense of humor (here's David Rubenstein, co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, rapping about finance in a holiday video to investors). People need to be able to humanize the professional version of yourself that you bring work every day. Doing so can really improve internal, reporter and client dynamics.
We're in the business of storytelling, but too often we forget that everyone around us is crafting their own story about, well, us.
Internally, co-workers may get joy out of watching you get fired up after a good day at work, but can just as easily lose morale if all you show them is stress and anxiety. They'll relish in your funny personal anecdotes, and connect with you on a deeper level if they can help you through a tough time. And while taking compliments isn't easy for everyone, your teammates might just be trying to relate to you better by seeing what a smile looks like on your face, so act accordingly!
The same applies externally to media and client relationships. When pitching a reporter or producer you've never spoken to before, check their LinkedIn or Twitter pages for things you have in common. You'd be amazed how far a sports team allegiance, a common passion for funny cat videos, being alums from the same university, or having both experienced life in the same foreign country, can strengthen a relationship and liven up their day from a cycle of mundane, robotic pitches.
With clients this should be even further emphasized. Getting to know about their family, providing travel recommendations, celebrating their promotions before they alert you of them (be vigilant of LinkedIn and email signatures), or sending them a downright hilarious video on days you know they are stressed, is what transcends your bond with them into a long-lasting, successful partnership. And if you and your client are on texting-level, I commend you on your BFF-status.
You don't have to be the life of every party for people to know you have a pulse. But it wouldn't hurt every now and then to get yo'back up off the wall.