I changed the way I shave.
Every few years, convinced that there’s a better way out there, I change my daily shaving regimen. I’ve tried just about every method – wet, dry, with a razor with five blades, an electric razor, Dollar Shave Club, with gel, foam, soap, electric… you name it. For this round I decided to go seriously old school, with a safety razor.
So, what does shaving have to do with PR? As I was adopting my new shaving ritual, I noticed parallels between safety razor shaving and the secrets to PR success. Here are seven of them:
1. Good results take time
In my extensive shaving research, I’ve seen “professional shavers” (see below) say you should spend up to a half an hour on the whole shaving process. My opinion is not of that extreme nature, but I do know that if you rush while you shave, the results won’t be very good. Same goes for PR: If you start with the right messaging, plan the content, develop your pitch and persevere you’ll get better results.
2. It’s a mix of art and science
You can buy the best razor in the world and have a steady hand, but if you don’t have the right mix of water and soap to lubricate your skin, nothing’s going to help. You need both art and science to make this happen. PR is a craft, but there is science behind what works, along with luck and timing. The secret to good PR is to have all the the elements in the right mix.
3. Let the tools do the work
The one thing I learned quickly about shaving with a safety razor is that you let the weight of the razor shave your face… don’t press. Again, PR is the exact same way. Your average PR professional has many tools in his tool belt whether it’s a solid media database, rapport with certain media outlets or a gift for writing the perfect tweet for the perfect occasion. Let the tools do the work. Don’t force results where there might not be any.
4. Remember the old ways, embrace the new ones
There’s a reason a safety razor, at least for me, seems to work better than other shaving methods: The one razor is focused on the task at hand and is designed to do that task very well. Additionally, using a shaving brush and shaving soap may seem archaic, but there’s a method to the ritual: The brush combined with the soap softens your beard as you apply it in circular motion. That movement raises your whiskers in a way that that it adequately prepares your face for what’s to come. The old folks knew what they were doing when they developed this method. But then again, so do the folks at Gillette when they develop their “space age shaving technology”. Acknowledge that both have their place. For example, even after I shave with the safety razor, I might miss a spot. And when that happens, instead of brushing and lathering up again, I take my Gillette Fusion with its 20 zillion blades and poly-polymer lubrication strip and swipe it over the spot I missed – a half-second of no muss, no fuss. Same rules apply for PR: The press release is a dying animal, but that’s not to say it doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s still the best way for a company to announce its news for public record, especially for putting it for posterity on the corporate website. Additionally, Twitter has become a great way to reach out to journalists. Embrace both the old and the new and find ways to make them work together.
5. Question authority
As long as I’ve been alive, Gillette and just about every other razor company out there has drummed into our heads that more blades means a better shave. For some people that may seem true. For me it doesn’t. Like I said above, the one-bladed safety razor is designed to do one thing and do it well – remove the scratchy stuff on your face. Just as you should question Gillette when they inevitably introduce the Mach 20, so should you question every piece of advice someone gives you about PR. For example, it’s a common conversation for journalists and PR professionals to discuss the right way to pitch. If we heeded every piece of pitching advice we ever received from reporters, we’d have a five minute window at 10:15am to send homing pigeons loaded with pithy 60-word exclusive story pitches that never mention our clients’ products.
6. There will be blood
When shaving, you get cut. It’s inevitable. When practicing good PR, sometimes the story doesn’t come out the way you want it. Know going in that there will be blood and be prepared accordingly.
7. End things right
Whether it’s the perfect shave or the perfect pitch, make sure you end things properly, whether it’s a splash of aftershave or a follow-up email to the person who interviewed you…just don’t confuse the two.
I’d love to hear from you on your thoughts…any other shaving PR tips? Any parallels between lawn mowing and Tweeting? Write ‘em below or share them at the Upright Communications Facebook page or tweet them with the #ShavePR hashtag on Twitter.