Aug 30

Give me service over brand anytime

As I’ve been traveling in the Great White North, Peppercommers have been contributing superb guest blogs day-after-day. Today’s comes from assistant extraordinare and Repman executive editor, Dandy Stevenson. As you’ll read, Dandy’s superior experience on a recent vacation underscores what I’ve been telling clients and prospects for years: bigger doesn’t mean better.

naples-florida-fl-023I got back to NYC on Saturday after a badly needed (is there any other kind) vacay in Naples FL. Stayed at La Playa Hotel and Spa, part of the Noble House group, and the only resort directly on the beach. They are accurately billed as being 33 steps from the beach; if you stay at the Waldorf you get to ride a tram to the beach. No thanks. I was not familiar with this collection of hotels, but the friend that recommended it is a real snob so I figured I would be okay. Turns out I was much more than just okay.

I’ve stayed at luxury resorts (Four Seasons, Ritz, et al) but this moderately sized property has an appeal and charm that actually made it more relaxing for me than the standard luxe resort. I could go on about the marble reception area, beautifully landscaped pools and cozy bathrobes but those things are pretty de rigueur and alone do not define a fine resort. It’s the service: first, last and always.

What made their service so outstanding, and actually, preferable to the big name luxury resorts? Four things, and not in any order…

1.    Eye contact. Everyone from the bus boy to the front desk manager looked me directly in the eye when speaking to me. Think about how often someone in service will look in your direction, but not always squarely in the face for the entire conversation. It may seem small, but it makes you realize that at that moment, you are their only guest. Nothing else, no one else matters to that person. The bartender didn’t ask what I wanted while he wiped down the bar, or rinsed glasses. He stopped and gave me his full attention.

2.    Sincere friendliness. I was spared the canned niceties. For example when I called the spa I didn’t hear, “It’s a beautiful day at Spa Terre and I thank you for considering our services; with whom to I have the pleasure of speaking?” I am never impressed by someone who memorized the Good Service Playbook. The staff at LaPlaya were real, genuine, and felt free to show their warmth in their own way. You knew the smile was real. I heard “Are you going to the beach today?” or “I hope we don’t get another thunderstorm.” There was friendly, but not familiar chatter with graciousness and even humor.

3.    Non-invasive attention. I’ve been in hotels where the staff freezes in the hallway, stands back to the wall, eyes fixed straight ahead when you near them. It’s some variation on the treatment Queen Elizabeth gets and word is even SHE doesn’t like that much formality. It’s not comfortable. It doesn’t make me feel special. It makes me feel like I have a spotlight following me around, and that’s not relaxing. Instead, if I was walking towards a door a staff member was near they just quietly held the door for me, and gave me a smile. No big deal. I knew they were observing me, but they weren’t making a big deal out of it. My towel into fell into a puddle by the pool; someone brought me a clean one. No words exchanged. Just an unobtrusive rectification. I knew the staff was observant, but they were not overt.

4.    Efficiency. At breakfast, a server other than mine, noticed I was looking for my own. He didn’t say, “I’ll get your waiter,” but instead, “I’ll take care of you.” Within minutes my own server returned with my request. It was obvious that each member of each staff group (food and beverage, beach service, housekeeping, front desk) knew they were an important member of a team, and were ready to play any position.

Now let’s get to why I think they beat the big guys. They’re not big. (In fact they remind me of a certain mid-sized PR firm that was Ranked #1 Best Places to Work by Crain’s NY Business, 2012.) They’re nimble. They have the freedom to personalize their training to each property and group. I think they have instilled a confidence in their staff to give their own personal touch. And because the staff knows they are not one of thousands worldwide, they have a camaraderie and personal pride in their resort. They’re not choking on corporate rules, or afraid to let the staff members be actively involved in making it a premier resort.

Don’t mistake me. LaPlaya is not perfection. The food, while marvelous, was not four-star. The baths did not have a soaking tub and the in-room safe was inconveniently placed on a top closet self. And of course this grade of personal service is not universally foreign to the premiere properties. But I think attention should be paid when a relatively unknown brand competes successfully, and surpasses in some instances the big guys.

I’ve already eyed the other Noble House properties, and LaPlaya hasn’t seen the last of me.

Aug 29

I just want to be popular!

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian.

maysssserIf you’ve ever seen the musical “Wicked,” you know it’s an excellent show, with great music, but now I’m wondering if this is the foundation of Marissa Mayer’s PR strategy for her interview with Vogue.

What do I mean? If you know the words to the song ‘Popular’ from said musical, then you may know where I’m going with this. One character tries to help the other to be seen in a more desirable way. The title says it all. However, to elaborate, here is a direct quote:

I remind them on their own behalf to think of celebrated heads of state or specially great communicators.
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don’t make me laugh!
They were popular! Please – It’s all about popular!
It’s not about aptitude, it’s the way you’re viewed so it’s very shrewd to be very, very popular.
Like me.

Now, Marissa is certainly not the first CEO to grace the pages of a consumer magazine—the founders of Google, the CEO of Netflix, even Mark Zuckerberg and others have done the same.

So why is Marissa’s spread getting all of the attention? And why is the word “appropriate” being thrown around? Maybe it’s the image of her upside down on a couch. Or perhaps it’s the way in the interview she is trying to make her intelligent self seem more appealing to the general public (part of the interview made her sound like a character out of the ‘Sweet Valley High’ series, she just needed to throw in a few “likes” and “ums”). Either way, this isn’t a question of if she did the appropriate thing. It’s a question of whether this was the right move for Yahoo.

As industry practitioners, we know that not all PR is good PR. While this interview wasn’t necessarily bad, I just don’t see the value of her interview for her company . . . which she is the face of.

She’s made many smart strategic business choices, which are mentioned throughout the piece, but specifically one item that was a huge win for Marissa and Yahoo, was the acquisition of Tumblr and that along with other successes is mentioned in a paragraph that quotes Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s head of mobile. Why isn’t she being quoted directly on this? In fact, more of the “business discussion” is buried on the last page of the feature.

Sure, we learned that she’s “smart and sexy,” but what does that tell me about Yahoo? I don’t care that the CEO has those attributes. Perhaps an interview in a different magazine about how she’s focusing on running her company and throws in messaging that convinces people that Yahoo isn’t subpar to some of its competitors would have been good. That’s the direction I would have advised.

So what did this interview with Vogue really do for Yahoo? Well, I for one learned that its current CEO was once pregnant, while wearing expensive designer shoes and working at Yahoo, but I’m not certain that was one of the key messages she was trying to get out. It did make for a nice sidebar for Vogue, though:  “Pregnant in Prada”—see our Marissa Mayer–inspired maternity wardrobe.

My advice to you, Marissa? You are clearly an extremely intelligent, successful woman. You wouldn’t be the CEO of Yahoo if not and you have the potential to be leading others to make similar choices. Stop giving fluff interviews that do nothing for the company that you are heading. Just stop. Being popular isn’t everything and certainly doesn’t make Yahoo a better product or brand. Making smart strategic decisions does and that includes how you sell yourself to the public.

Aug 28

It’s Miley Time in America

USaaaaAUnlike many Americans, I’m not surprised by the outrageous antics of Miley Cyrus on the recent MTV Video Music Awards.

I’m not surprised because Miley is just the most recent, and most blatant, example of Americans who are positively obsessed with themselves.

Miley is infatuated with Miley, so she acts out to draw ever more attention to herself. And, we’re obsessed with Miley, so we watch AND Tweet about the erstwhile Disney star to ensure her self-fulfilling prophesy is, well, self-fulfilling.

As a 2011 DailyKos comparison of Time Magazine covers revealed, our media is ALSO obsessed with ALL things American, so obsession begets obsession begets obsession (and, so forth and so on).

I’m not condoning Miley’s behavior, but I’m not condemning it either. She’s merely feeding the amazingly myopic, highly parochial American media beast.

Take the morning talk shows. Please!

Chemical warfare in Syria got short shrift in comparison to the endless Miley discussions and Donald Trump’s defense of his apparently highly bogus Trump University.

I guess it was OK to be self-absorbed when the U.S. was the world’s sole super power and before we became so dependent on Chinese investment dollars and the interconnected global markets. But, today, it not only reflects the dumbing down of America, it bodes ill for our future competitiveness.

While American kids are debating Miley’s Traveling Sex Show, their global colleagues are studying, if not living, seismic upheavals caused by military, religious, political and environmental chaos.

When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, the Republican Party aired a hugely-popular TV commercial entitled, ‘It’s morning in America.’ The spots were intended to reinforce Reagan’s contributions to our nation’s military and economic strength, and a re-birth of national pride.

Today’s candidates, whether they be Republican, Democratic, Tea Party or Libertarian, would be hard pressed to run commercials that said anything other than, ‘It’s Miley Time in America.’

And, for me, that’s simply code for ‘It’s evening in America.’

And a tip o’ Repman’s climbing helmet to Donna Bijas, Nicole “Kick-Kick” Moreo and Rob “Don’t break down at night” Duda for suggesting this post.

Aug 27

Are your fans die-hard or just plain dead?

crazy-red-sox-fanToday’s guest post is by Peppercommer Paul Merchan- renowned for being a superb publicist, writer and client manager. He’s also a world-class rapper and a devout Yankees and Giants fan. But, he’s no fan of a new Emory University survey about fan loyalty. Check it out:

Sports news website Fansided recently posted about a study conducted by students from Emory University to determine the most loyal fans in the NFL by team/city. My first thought was that this is a remarkably subjective task and someone is bound to disagree with their findings. My second thought was that this kind of measure can reflect either positively or negatively on the city where the team plays – a passionate fan base reflects a thriving city, a tepid fan base gives off the perception of being a boring city. Now I’m a Giants fan, and was relatively pleased to see that the Giants fan base was ranked in the top five. But I was astounded that our stadium rivals, the New York Jets, were ranked third, two full spots ahead of us! I have grounds for an argument here, but first here are the variables that this group of sports marketing analytics majors developed into a formula to come up with their results:
•    Team box office revenues
•    Team on-field success
•    Market population
•    Stadium capacity
•    Median income

The assessment seeks to understand the brand equity of sports franchises to their markets using empirical data. So no anecdotal evidence is taken into consideration, thereby eliminating biases.

Now here’s my rebuttal:

They started with a theory that “team revenue is based on the loyalty of fans.” I strong disagree with that. The premise is that if you’re a fan, you’re attending the games in person, and with more persons attending, the higher the revenue for the team. Growing up in Brooklyn as a Giants fan, it was sometimes difficult, both from a travelling and economic perspective to make it to a game. Does that make me less of a loyal fan? Mind you that as a kid, Giants season tickets had a quarter-century waiting list, and today you can only buy season tickets if you first buy a Personal Seat License, all of which are sold out for life.

It’s also quite a coincidence that on the NFL list, the most successful on-field teams are at the top (the Jets being the glaring exception), while most of the teams that stink are at the bottom. Now, the Emory folks tried to control for that. They developed a predicted revenue value that takes into account how good/bad the team is versus how much money they make, and then compare that to the actual revenue. If there’s a large difference, that’s where they determined fan loyalty came into play. But the results still lead one to assume that the “better” teams have the most loyal fans. This certainly can’t be true.

I think the focus of the study was too centered on box office revenue. What about fans that have never been to an NFL game, such as myself, who are loyal to a team, watch their games consistently, wear their apparel, etc.? TV/radio ratings and website traffic should also be taken into account.

In their NBA analysis earlier this year, the Emory students figured the New York Knicks had the most loyal fan base, while the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets had the least loyal fan base. The fact that they based this on attendance figures, when the Nets’ home arena has a smaller seating capacity, makes it a flawed assessment. And how about all of the revenue generated from merchandise and apparel sales after the rebranding of the team when they moved to Brooklyn? Every other person I see walking in the borough is rocking Nets gear now, including me. But not everyone has been to a game.

In their MLB analysis, they rank the Houston Astros far ahead of the Detroit Tigers, based on the fact that the Astros charge 12 percent more for their tickets. Can’t the Tigers have more loyal fans even though they pay less at the box office? Is it their fault that the prices are lower? Compounding the issue is that the Los Angeles Dodgers were ranked first on the MLB list. I know, this is supposed to be a scientific study, and anecdotal evidence is not taken into consideration. But I’ve attended baseball games at Dodger Stadium and if those fans are loyal, it’s kind of hard to hear their loyalty on a summer night; I heard no applause on a two-strike count in the first inning with the opposing team up, which baseball fans know is a staple of crowd participation.

The baseball assessment is particularly egregious because they ranked the Kansas City Royals in the bottom five. However, the Royals have by far the highest ratings jump from last year, with 64 percent more local fans tuning in, even though the team hasn’t made the playoffs since Reagan was president. Is that not loyalty?

So what does this mean for how we feel about certain cities? Detroit just filed for bankruptcy, and now their NFL and MLB teams are ranked 28 and 29 respectively in terms of loyalty. Upon first glance, doesn’t say much about the town, does it? Yet, the Tigers have enjoyed consistent fan support for most of the decade, while the Lions, despite their tough recent history, still packed Ford Field to the tune of 98 percent of capacity a couple of years ago. So I would say this reflects pretty well on the people of Motown, and kind of makes me want to go there to catch a game. On the opposite spectrum, you have a franchise like the Oakland Raiders, with just a tarnished fan reputation due to fights, assaults and their black/silver colors being banned from certain schools. Having their team ranked dead last is just like kicking a man while he’s down. Yet, with their L.A. roots, the Raiders probably enjoy a larger and more loyal regional fan base than we might think.

Overall, if the only color to measure team loyalty is “green,” then we all suffer from a bad reputation.

Aug 26

Doctor Baseball probes A-Rod scandal

Join Wayne “Doctor Baseball” McDonnell, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Deb ‘PED’ Brown and Steve ‘Juicer’ Cody as they discuss Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s steroid scandal and the Yankees stretch run for the American League East Division crown.

Please leave a urine sample before you click on link:

 

Aug 22

Two days on top

I can’t speak for you, but my workload has not slowed down one iota during August’s dog days.

As a result, I needed to condense a planned 10-day vacation into a far shorter, 48-hour one.

But, knowing where I had to go, and what I wanted to do, I phoned Art Mooney (www.mooneymountainguides.com).

Art had the ideal solution:

- One day of slab climbing on New Hampshire’s nine-pitch, 3,500-ft-tall White Horse Mountain.

Whitehorse- A second day spent scaling Franconia Notch’s rugged ‘Eaglet’.

Eaglet

Art couldn’t have chosen two, more diverse experiences for the climbing team of A.O. Barr, Chris and Repman Cody.

Art describes slab climbing as a desperate, and delicate, scramble up a series of 60 degree angles that provides few, if any, hand or toe holds. The key to slab climbing is engaging one’s core and using balance and forward momentum to move skyward. As Art reminded us on more than occasion, the more we veered off the route he selected, the more desperate and delicate our steps would be.

But, five hours, and a few desperate, delicate steps later, we stood astride White Horse, and soaked in vistas of 50 miles or more in every direction. Work-related stress? What work-related stress. Btw, here’s Art’s blog describing our slab-climbing escapades that day.

Day Two was completely different. Art led us onto a brutally challenging, 25 degree angled, boulder-strewn trail hike that took us to the base of the Eaglet (a climb Art had earlier promised would be ‘wild’).

After 45 minutes of intense, cardio climbing, we dropped our gear at the base of Eaglet, and stared straight up at the spire. A needle might be a better descriptor of the peak. Art warned us the summit wouldn’t hold more than three or four of us a time. Now, that’s what I call narrow.

Art led me while his trusty partner, Eric Thatcher, guided Chris.

Despite three or four particularly technical challenges, we each summitted the Eaglet. It was an amazing feeling, and a euphoric sense of accomplishment swept over us (I’d challenge heroin or crystal meth makers to top mountaineering’s natural highs)

I cannot tell you how completely refreshing a few days of climbing can be. It took only two days on top to recharge my work batteries, and ensure this PR guy stayed on top of his workload.

What other legal pastime will produce that type of short-term result?”

Aug 21

My vote for the best social media study of 2013

renee1The Institute of Public Relations has once again contributed valuable content to the white-hot subject of social media. In a just-released report, IPR’s social science of social media team (CSI: SSSM?) listed what they believe to be the top 10 research studies during the first half of 2013.

Ah, but those cunning IPR researchers have purposely left the 10th spot wide open, and invited the rest of our industry to submit recommendations. In Repman’s case, that’s akin to waving a red flag in front of a bull.

So, here’s my submission for the 10th spot (and, please note that I believe my entry should be topping the list, and not bringing up the rear):

10.) Spreadable Media”  I’d recommend the Spreadable Media project, found here. This collection of 34 articles are case studies and cultural analyses written by academic researchers in media studies, cultural studies, film studies, communication, journalism, sociology, history, anthropology, business and marketing, design, English, and American studies, at institutions from MIT, UC-Berkeley, NYU, and USC to Universidad Veritas, Queensland University of Technology, North Carolina State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a range of other universities. The collection also includes media and marketing industry professionals at places like Microsoft, Bluefin Labs/Twitter, Godrej Industries, and Hill Holliday.

The IPR has put together a list of nine important social sciences studies about social media in the first half of 2013 that all PR professionals should read. This seems like a solid collection of the latest empirical research about how we might best understand social media use in our field. At Peppercomm, however, we staunchly advocate that truly understanding what’s happening in the lives of the audiences we seek to reach for our clients must involve balancing quantitative research with both qualitative research and analysis, on the one hand, and on listening to the patterns that are happening in our culture beyond specifically how people are relating to organizations. The top nine reports lack a true listening component.

For anyone wanting to balance quantitative research about the latest ways people are using social media with a deeper understanding of case studies and research into how people are using social media in the culture more broadly, this collection is a good place to start, with some of the leading researchers on new media today. The collection covers topics like how companies value engagement, why the word “consumer” might undercut the value audiences bring to brands in a digital age, what we might all learn from how Swedish indie bands use the digital spread of their content, the use of Twitter among Iranian citizens in the 2009 elections, how people engage with digital media in the workplace, the value of customer recommendations to brands, and a range of other subjects.

All the articles are available free on the web, as part of a book project published earlier this year called Spreadable Media. (Full disclosure: I should note that Peppercommer Sam Ford is co-author of that book and also co-authored one of these 34 essays.) Some of these pieces focus on marketing, advertising, and public relations; many focus on larger cultural trends. But it’s a great sampler platter for the sort of cultural knowledge and learning of which any PR professional who is going to lead this industry through the 21st Century needs to stay abreast.

So, what say we storm the ramparts of IPR’s opulent headquarters, and demand Spreadable Media be properly listed at the very top of their social media research list, as the perfect balance for the social science research they highlight?

Aug 20

A vast, sleazy wasteland

61A3P6+c34L If one needed any further proof that broadcast and cable television programming is slipping ever deeper into a murky mass of soft-core porn, circus side show acts and sophomoric humor, I submit for your consideration the following:

- The Discovery Channel’s ‘Naked and Afraid.’ This so-called reality show air drops one male and one female survival expert into such hellish environs as a tropical rain forest, an African desert and a deserted South Sea Island. They’re then asked to strip naked, and survive on what they can forage and kill over the next 21-days. Trust me, the survival part is really just an excuse to focus on these modern-day Adam and Eve wanna-be’s as they frolic, cavort and cuddle to their hearts’ content. It’s truly disturbing and, in my opinion, should carry the tagline: ‘Where survival meets soft-core.’ Yuck.

- TLC’s ‘The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.’ And, you thought you were having a bad day! Ouch! Somehow, some way, those oh-so-erudite purveyors of fine taste at TLC managed to track down a guy named Wesley Warren, Jr. Poor Wes suffers from scrotal lymphedema, a disease that has caused his family jewels to swell to superhuman size. Talk about runaway inflation!

But, wait, there’s more to this tear jerker (now stop it. I won’t go there). It seems that El hombre con los cajones grandissimos is also destitute, so he has no funds with which to pay for a downsizing. Such drama. Such pathos. Such drivel.

And where I ask, were the erectile dysfunction and aging male bladder pharmaceutical manufacturers when this show was being made? Nowhere to be seen. Were I a PR guy or media planner for Cialis or Flow-Max, I’d have showered the dude with money AND flooded the program with my commercials. Talk about a missed opportunity.

What makes all of this tawdry programming SO sad is the rich legacy of each cable channel.

I had the unique opportunity to work on The Discovery Channel account AND launch what was originally known as The Learning Channel. Nowadays, one discovers soft-core on the former and oversized testicles on the latter. And, that’s on a good night.

In 1961, F.C.C. Chairman Newton K. Minnow famously described television as a vast wasteland. Were he alive today, and able to suffer through such salacious shows as the ones above, he’d most certainly add the adjective sleazy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m naked, afraid and swollen at the prospect of how much worse TV programming can become.

Sadly, I think the worst is yet to come:

How about parachuting the guy with the 132-lb testicles into the Serengetti Plain, and watch him dodge lions AND raise money for his operation over a three-week period? Now that’s what I call must-watch TV!

Aug 19

Baseball’s Whitey Bulger

I don’t think Alex Rodriguez should be allowed to play another game of professional baseball.

It’s one thing to cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then deny it for years. It’s quite another to pull a Whitey Bulger and ‘rat’ out fellow players, including a Yankees teammate.

A-Rod’s contemptible behavior does far more than further erode his already horrible image and reputation.  It smears that of the Yankees franchise itself. And, that’s what confuses me most about this dark chapter in baseball history.

The average sports organization takes great pains to distance itself from law-breaking players (witness The New England Patriots complete erasure of any sign that accused murderer, Aaron Hernandez, ever played for the team. The purge was positively Stalinesque in nature!).

And yet, here’s A-Rod, guilty as sin, contesting baseball’s suspension AND implicating his own pin-striped teammate, still batting clean-up for the Bronx Bombers? Shame on you, Yankee organization.  Shame on you.

Rogue players, entertainers, politicians and business executives need to go when they, themselves, become the story.

971384_602455496452940_1772305071_nTo wit:

- Charlie Sheen’s: ‘Winning’!”

- BP’s Andrew Heyward’s: ‘You know, I have a life, too,’

- New York’s sad sack mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner’s: ‘There may have been three more women. I can’t recall.’

Some exit stage left. Some don’t. Others are forced off the stage.

A-Rod and the Yankees have done neither.

Instead, they’ve sent a very clear message: they intend to win this year’s American League Eastern Division title, regardless of the long-term damage done to the team’s image, reputation and relationship with the fan base.

And, that’s just wrong.

History is replete with examples of short-term short cuts that went horribly wrong:

- The use of brittle O-Rings that fractured in cold weather and doomed the crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

- Opting for cheaper rivets to hold together the iron plates of an unsinkable ship christened the R.M.S. Titanic.

- Allowing a rat named Bulger to continue killing Mafiosa kingpins and innocent bystanders alike as long as he continued providing information to the FBI.

The image and reputation of baseball’s most storied franchise is at a critical juncture: it’s two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The bases are loaded and the Yankees are trailing by a run.

Who will they send to the plate? I, for one, would rather see Casey strike out than the Roided Rat hit a walk-off, game-winning home run.

Aug 16

What do James Bond and PR pros have in common?

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Mandy Roth.

mandyIt’s true:  Public Relations Practitioner did not appear on the list of “100 Most Badass Professions of 2013.” For one thing, the occupation didn’t stand a chance considering said list does not exist—I made it up. If such a survey were published, one can assume that CIA operative would definitely be a contender for the top spot (perhaps along with royal baby). And I’d argue that we communication professionals have more in common with undercover agents than meets the eye. As the daughter of a former CIA operative, I’d like to share my impressions of key traits that apply to both professions, suggesting that we PR pros are bolder and more intrepid than we may appear.

1.  Our effectiveness is often gauged by our gadgets.
Without a collection of sophisticated gadgets, James Bond would have no more street cred than Encyclopedia Brown. Of course, few of us PR types get to wear a Rolex with a homing beacon or drive an Aston Martin that emits a smoke screen.  But, just like Bond’s gadget-guru “Q,” we have to continually update and customize our toolbox to remain competitive.

In today’s increasingly connected, globalized world, the communication toolkit is more extensive than ever.  For example, so as not to let the conversation of today’s consumers run amok on the web, it is vital that professional communicators stay on top of social media platforms. This doesn’t mean taking an hour out of your Tuesday to learn the logistics of Twitter; it means constantly seeking new ways to utilize existing platforms to drive user engagement and achieve client goals.

2.  To do our jobs well, we must keep our cool—especially in high-pressure situations.
Maxwell Smart might’ve shriveled under pressure, but a well-seasoned agent wouldn’t dare. Keeping your cool is the name of the game, and is often what separates the pros from the no-gos.

PR practitioners are held to a similar standard.  We generally have better luck in pitching the media when we remain low-key and relaxed.  And while it may be frustrating when a client shuns our brilliant ideas or declines to participate in an incredible media opportunity, there’s no sense in getting worked up. We must keep calm and carry on.

3.  An invisible hand is often credited for our hard work.
In the client-oriented business of PR, our work takes place behind the scenes. Once again, who would understand the low profile nature of our profession better than undercover agents, who spend their lives in the shadows, disdaining the individual limelight?

I’d argue that we should embrace our hidden hand as it encourages modesty, the setting aside of egos, and a focus on delivering results. To quote Ronald Reagan, “there is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

4.  We are students of human behavior.
I have gleaned from observing my dad over the years that intelligence operatives are—by nature, training and necessity—students of human behavior. They are constantly evaluating people’s actions and apparent motives to draw accurate conclusions (and maybe even save the world).

PR professionals tend to deal less frequently with life-or-death situations, but to secure any real results for our clients we are required to understand the audience. Here at Peppercomm, we function under a process: listen, engage, repeat. Without listening, or gathering insights from the behavior and voices of the given audience, we are in no place to engage or repeat. Observation is a huge part of a business that cannot afford to be neglected.

So you see, we PR folks ought to be proud of our alluring industry, which will be sure to claim a spot on the illegitimate “100 Most Badass Professions of 2014” list (mostly because I happen to have a connection to its author). In closing, I should clarify that while I do believe we have much in common with our clandestine friends, there is at least one major difference between us: we PR practitioners will gladly accept any martini at face value, regardless of whether it was shaken or stirred.