It’s Sunday morning, and I’ve just wrapped up the first set of tasks that I’ve inherited over the past 40-plus years of married life, one of which is ironing clothes.
I actually enjoy this chore, and I used to think I was probably a “little” weird because of it. That is, until I was having a chat with my president at the Blood Bank of Hawaii way back when. We were comparing notes on our relatively frenetic lives, and I mentioned that I enjoyed ironing clothes, to which she responded, “So do I!”
We both agreed that ironing clothes was a therapeutic action for us. Our workdays were filled with ever-changing twists and turns that kept us “on” pretty much all the time. Ironing clothes on the other hand, as we both agreed, had a beginning and an end. We could control the action.
As we talked more, I realized that this seemingly mundane task was very similar to my day-to-day challenges as a public relations professional.
How and why? Simple! The basic steps in ironing are…
1. Gather all the clothes in need of ironing. (Research)
2. Set up the ironing board; fill the iron with water and turn it on. (Action)
3. Take each item and iron until wrinkles are gone. (Communication)
4. Check to see that all clothes in need of ironing are, in fact, neatly ironed and ready to wear. (Evaluation)
Sure, you will have to repeat the process next week or whenever your ironing cycle comes around again. But you will have successfully addressed the challenge and you have an operable plan!
And, just as in public relations life, occasionally there will be a need to re-iron a recently-worn item because of an unexpected occasion that requires wearing it. (Crisis Management)
Our main goal as public relations professionals is to “engineer” (Edward L. Bernays’ description) a mutual understanding between our client or employer and those publics with whom we wish to (or must) conduct our business. (Wrinkle-free clothes)
We want those publics (or “audiences” if you prefer that term) to view our client or employer favorably. (Neatly-pressed appearance)
Occasionally we will have to take special extra steps to ensure that favorable opinion. (Starch on clothes)
In the end, though, we will have accomplished our mission. So the next time you’re facing a pile of wrinkled clothes, don’t think of it as “another mindless household chore.” Look at it as a very solvable public relations challenge!