7 PR lessons from Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving: A word that conjures up daydreams of plates heaping with mashed potatoes, thoughts of pumpkin pie and the delicious smell of a cooking turkey. But, thinking about the upcoming holiday may also send you into a panic, as also often happens when PR pros look at their to-do lists. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re giving you seven lessons PR people can take away from the holiday dinner.

Plan your menu. Drafting a plan for when items are going to occur, what is needed to put them into motion and who is responsible keeps everyone on-track and minimizes stress—just as making a grocery list of all the ingredients needed for Thanksgiving dinner minimizes trips to the supermarket and knowing who’s bringing what avoids confusion over what’s going to be on the table.

‘Going at it alone’ is a recipe for disaster. Assuming you can cook an entire huge Thanksgiving dinner (and have the dishes turn out as pretty as they are on Pinterest) is simply not logical—and neither is thinking that you can singlehandedly implement every part of that next big client promotion and achieve glowing results. As painful as it might be for some of us (you know who you are!), delegate tasks and ask for help so you won’t lay awake late into the night wondering how it can possibly all get done in time.

Nothing good ever comes from too many cooks in the kitchen. Asking for help is one thing; having too many over-eager helpers with competing opinions is quite another. Assigning specific tasks and knowing who is doing what minimizes stress—and potential disasters. The last thing you want is to accidentally mix the sweet potatoes in a bowl used for uncooked meat, or, along the same lines, send out a news release, or tweet classified information, before it is allowed to be released.

One helping is plenty.  The trick to a “skinny” Thanksgiving? Resisting the urge to have seconds, or thirds. The average person on Thanksgiving eats around 4,500 calories. Talk about over-indulging—that’s more than double what a normal adult should eat in one day! It’s all about limits. The best way to get fans to un-follow your client on social media? Bombard them with Facebook posts and tweets. Limit Facebook posts to 1-2 per day and tweets to 2-5, in general. This may change depending on what’s going on, but the last thing you want to do is cause users to disengage altogether.

Go ahead, break the wishbone. You have a 50/50 chance of coming out with the smaller end or being the lucky winner. But, if you don’t take a chance, you’ll never know! Same goes with PR campaigns: Sometimes, you have to take a risk and try something new. We’re not saying to blow an entire budget blindly, but think about fresh, creative new tactics to use in spreading messages. What if that campaign doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped? Well, take what you learned and perfect your strategy for next time around.

Don’t blame the turkey. Breaking news: It’s not the turkey that causes you to pass out on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner; it’s all of the carbs! However, people STILL continue to blame the bird. Similarly, it’s usually not one person’s fault when an initiative fails. Avoid pointing fingers if an event or promotion doesn’t go well, or placing blame without having all of the facts. Part of being a team is not throwing the “turkey” under the bus, but instead figuring out a solution and working through problems.

Relationships matter. The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends. It’s easy to forget how much relationships matter in life—both personally and professionally. Take time to enjoy the wonderful people in your life and spend time building relationships. Not only is it good for your mental health – it’s good for business too.



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