Monday, November 14, 2011

Being a 'What's Next?' PR Pro

Martin Sheen, who provided the voice for the r...Image via WikipediaI loved watching The West Wing. To this day, if I come across it on television I make a point to watch because of the compelling storyline and characters.

One of the random things I took away from the series was a simple two-word phrase by Martin Sheen's character, President Bartlet: What's next?

When Jed Bartlet is in the early stages of his campaign, and his new young crew is laying out the terrain, he says: “What’s next?” – and then, When I ask, “What’s next?”, it means that I’m ready to move on to other things. So, what’s next?” [source]

What's Next? and Public Relations
A PR pro with a What's next? mentality is a significant contributor in an organization. You can get caught up in the wins/losses of the day or you can decide that whatever this day brings, tomorrow is next and you need to be ready. I think what helps position PR professionals the best is an ability to enjoy the moments of victories (or lick your woulds after defeats) but then quickly pursue the next challenge ahead.

Consider these: Congratulations on that local/state/national media placement. Way to go, you successfully navigated your organization's leadership through some sticky community relations problem unscathed. Take a bow, that newspaper editorial board is on your side for a change. Well done, you were able to convince your executive to dismiss a bad idea that could have been a catastrophic. Three cheers, you got out in front of a crisis situation and were able to tell you side of the story and thus helped with balanced reporting.

The above are a small sampling of what I'd consider to be public relations victories.


Public relations professionals must take the wins, along with the losses, in stride. Too many things are out of your control. Being ready to move on to other things allows for an appropriate level of professional detachment from situations. This comes in very handy during particularly stressful situations. Additionally, having situational awareness is a valuable asset for an organization. You know when things are working well and you should be able to tell when things are going straight down the tubes. Make adjustments and keep moving forward.

Don't spend too much time patting yourself on the back when things go well or kicking yourself in the rear when things go poorly. Instead, look for what's next.
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