I Learned It All in Kindergarten
The other day, I thought about what it takes to succeed in the world of public relations. I realized that the fundamental basis goes back to what I learned when I was very young. The poem by Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” came to mind. As a recent grad and a full-time intern at a PR agency for almost three months, I realized how true this simple poem is.
Make friends with everyone.
Kindergarten is all about being nice, getting along and interacting with others. What skill is more useful for a PR professional? We talk to reporters, clients and coworkers every day. It is critical to establish relationships with all of these people in different capacities. And things won’t always be perfect - everyone has different expectations and agendas, and PR people especially need to learn how to handle tough situation with tact. Just as my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Thompson, would say, “If you’re having a disagreement, rule number one is to be nice.”
Work together to get the job done.
Putting away a block tower taller than your 3’5” body all alone can be pretty daunting, but with a couple of classmates the job can be finished quickly, and there is sure to be some fun had along the way. In the same way, PR pros need to rely on a team. Little Joey might be taller, but Sally is speedy and Sam is great at matching colors, and the job is done in no time. On our account teams and across the agency, we must rely on each other’s strengths and experiences to produce the best effort possible. A critical aspect of the team is being able to share the load when there is a lot of work to be done. It’s easy when we are all working toward a common goal.
The classroom will be a mess if we don’t put away the crayons and clean up after arts and crafts. If we’re too busy searching through a mess of materials, how are we ever going to make that Happy Halloween card for Mom and Dad? Without staying organized, we will never be able to deliver top-quality work to our clients. Each person at an agency is split between multiple accounts, each vying for his or her time and each moving along at full speed. Lists and folders and color-coded pens (or whatever your method is to stay organized) ensure that you’re ready to tackle each project that comes your way.
Play time is important.
We learn the most when we share ideas. Chatting with coworkers sparks ideas—be it how to approach a particular reporter or thoughts for a great new pitch angle. But spending time together without talking about work can be just as important. Weekly trivia competitions and employee lunches can introduce you to new people and help build relationships. After all, you never know who you’ll be working with on your next account!
Color in the lines.
Attention to detail is critical. It is important in that self-portrait (stick figures are so Pre-K!) and it is important when representing a client. PR professionals have a different term for it—“client ready”—but it means the same thing. It means putting your best foot forward every day. Checking and rechecking your work to make sure it is perfect and that you never forget to dot an "I" or cross a "T." The better you look, the better your client looks. And at the end of the day, you gotta “make mom proud.”
So when you come right down to it, we really did learn all we need to know in Kindergarten. What do you think?
When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to become an astronaut (and professional rock climber on the weekends). Although my dreams have changed as I have grown, I have to say Mr. Fulghum’s poem still rings true. What it takes to succeed in PR can all be learned in kindergarten!