“No, Mom and Dad. I Don’t Work in Advertising”

During the early days of  my career, my parents and in-laws continually asked me what I did for a living.  They understood my initial job as a newspaper reporter since they could see my bylines, but they looked confused as I frequently attempted to explain public relations.  Eventually, they simply told their friends that I was “in advertising.”  So, needless to say, I was intrigued with Bring Your Parents to Work Day, a creative PR-awareness initiative by Hunter Public Relations

So I asked Hunter’s Grace Leong to tap one of her colleagues to write a guest post about the day.  Valerie Kulbersh, a senior account executive, did the honors.  Valerie’s family were active participants in the day–her mother coming from Atlanta and her brother flying in from Los Angeles.  Here’s Valerie’s recap and tips from the day:

Hi, I’m Valerie Kulbersh.  I work at Hunter Public Relations in New York, and, until a few weeks ago, my parents had no idea what I do for a living.

On one hand, that’s representative of a good thing—our industry is one that stays predominantly behind the scenes—it’s much more important for people to see our programs and our clients than to see the rationale and efforts behind them. 
On the other hand, if my parents tell me one more time how proud they are to see my ad in the Sunday paper, I might scream.  This is a pretty common plight for PR folks, which is why Hunter PR recently had its first ever Bring Your Parents to Work Day.

Seventy of our family members from across the country came to our office for a daylong crash course in PR 101.  They got an introductory look at the strategy behind some of our most successful PR campaigns and took classes on Media Training, Brainstorming and Social Media.  They conducted mock interviews, came up with big PR ideas and even developed a plan for launching an ice cream parlor’s Facebook page.

It was a fantastic day, and our parents left the office with a significantly better understanding of PR than they walked in with.

So, why is this relevant to you?

As you begin your job search, or learn the ropes at a new job, it’s nice to have your family’s support and understanding of your (intended) career. Not to mention, your parents want to know: they want to brag about you; they want to spot your work in the media—they just don’t know how.

While it may not be feasible for you to conduct a full Bring Your Parents to Work Day training session with your parents, there are a few key points you can pull from our day to help your family understand and get excited about your new profession.

  1. Start with the Basics—Open up a few newspapers and magazines and point to the difference between an advertisement and a PR placement.  As you do this, explain in detail how each one got on the page.  The technology and fashion sections of a publication work exceptionally well for this.
  2. Show how PR principles apply to everyday life.  For example:
    a. Media Training—It’s all about getting your key message across in a way that’s appealing to the person you’re talking to.  Have your parents ever had an uncomfortable phone call with an employer, employee, neighbor, etc.?  Before they made the call, did they think of different ways to broach the subject or write down their key points and practice saying them?  If so, they media trained themselves!
    b. Social Media—It’s about using the internet to interact with the public and gauge interest, often in real time.  For your parents, this can mean posting photos of the family vacation on Facebook as a way of connecting with their audience (in this case, their Facebook friends), or checking CNET.com for reviews when they want to buy a camera.   Consider asking this—have mom and dad ever “liked” a Facebook brand page and then “unliked” it?  Why did they start and then stop?
  3. Bring Snacks—if Bring Your Parents to Work Day taught the staff at Hunter PR anything, it’s that our parents listen better when there’s food involved, so take your parents to brunch or whip up an afternoon snack and let the training begin!

3 thoughts on ““No, Mom and Dad. I Don’t Work in Advertising”

  1. I never quite understood why public relations has an aura of mystery surrounding it. I feel like I’m constantly trying to explain what exactly it is that I am studying. I now understand that it’s about being heard and not seen!

    On a different note, my mother may finally be getting the hang of PR especially when I can supplement our conversation with informative posts like this. Thanks so much!

  2. I was at Hunter PR’s Bring Your Parents to Work Day. It was an exciting day with lots of laughs, learning and praise for all of “our children.” The entire day was informative, interesting and yes, tasty. Well done, Hunter PR.

  3. Brilliant idea here. As I start my career in PR, I’ve always tried brainstorming how to tell my parents what I’ll be working on and why it’s important. Each time, they don’t seem to get the whole picture. They usually pick out pieces of what I tell them, but I know they really don’t understand fully.

    It’s kind of like saying I graduated with a degree in Journalism (which I did) and then having people ask me what newspaper I’ll be writing for. My emphasis is in public relations but people don’t always understand the inherent connection between journalism as a broader area of study that you need to grasp in order to learn PR.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

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