Becoming a parent is one of life’s major milestones. It changes everything, not just the way we live our lives but the way we think about life itself. Mothers-to-be might eat for two, but mothers and fathers-that-are live, breathe and sleep for two. (Or more!)
As our children start to grow, we get to know them in a way that nobody else could possibly know them. We’re there to witness their every action and reaction; their subtlest likes and dislikes; the tiniest details of their personality become second nature to us in the intense bubble that is young parenthood.
Then gradually, our kids start to go out into the world. They go to the crèche. They make friends. They are invited to play-dates. They go to school. They make more friends. They get to know people, and other people get to know them. But because other people don’t know them as well as we know them, we step in to fill the knowledge deficit. We become parents with a capital P and a capital R. We become their unofficial PR reps.
Reputation management is second nature to parents. When they are babies, we tell people about their accomplishments – first steps, first words, voracious appetite, ability to do this or that – and as they grow this simply continues, a rolling PR campaign designed to ensure the world knows just how good they are.
Posting holiday photos on Facebook, we make sure only the best ones go up. Outside the school gates, we exchange updates with other parents about our kids’ prowess at sport or music or mathematics. Anyone asks how they’re doing, we accentuate the positive. Even if they don’t ask, we accentuate the positive.
Now sometimes this can come across as, well, just boasting. (Sometimes it is just boasting!) But it’s really not meant to be – we’re simply doing our jobs as faithful PaRental professionals, always thinking about our ‘clients’, always looking for ways to promote and protect their brand image, never missing an opportunity to spread the good word.
Okay, we’re sort of joking here. But there’s no doubt that there are similarities between the way us PR professionals represent our clients’ interests and the way us parents do likewise with our kids. In each case, our job is to present the best possible version to the world – the only big difference being that when you become a parent, the retainer is for life!
It’s also interesting to note that working in PR can help you with other aspects of parenthood. Like what? Like the way PR pros are always thinking ahead, assessing the likelihood of scenario A versus scenario B and working out contingency plans to deal with either/or. When you have kids, it’s vital to be able to anticipate what they – and you – are going to need in any situation, whether it’s a picnic at the beach or a long car trip.
This industry can prepare you for parenting in other ways too, like the way PR professionals have to stay on top of every little detail as a campaign or event unfolds. Being super-organised and having excellent attention to detail makes dealing with kids so much easier too, simply because there are so many things to think of.
Finally, when you work in a creative industry like Public Relations, you learn how to approach challenges, issues and problems with a truly innovative mindset. Is there a better way to answer this brief? Is there a smarter way to execute this project? How can we work this out? When you’re dealing with children, you need to have plenty of creative solutions up your sleeve – or else!