Five Lessons From 25 Years in PR

As I see my agency’s 25th anniversary quickly approaching, I started to write a post about the 25 things I’ve learned over that extremely interesting, exciting, frustrating, and amazing time. But given attention spans these days (mine and yours), I decided to keep it to five.

  1. You be you

For years I worried about what my competitors were doing. I noticed their client rosters, great placements, awards received, new employees attracted, and compared all these with mine. This made me cranky. So now I take that energy and direct it to noticing all the fabulous work my outstanding team does for our wonderful clients. And I congratulate my peers when I see that they have enjoyed success too. I’m much less cranky.

  1. Always find the funny

I believe that teams who laugh together do the best work. There are few circumstances so serious that you can’t find a great movie reference, meme, or cat video to use to bring some levity to the situation. Clients appreciate this too. It’s hard out there and we’re all putting in a lot of hours and enduring some stressful situations. Why not break up the meeting with a good joke or funny story?

  1. Don’t read postcards from hell

This advice from a Wood Brothers song is my go-to answer for Yelp “reviewers”, Facebook commenters, and all the other Negative Nellies we encounter in the customer service aspect of our jobs. It’s so easy to be swayed by the vocal minority we call haters but you’ve got to know which ones to ignore. Hint: it’s most of them.

  1. PR is not brain surgery

In Atlanta, we have maybe two days each winter with a threat of snow and ice. I always take a moment to remind my team of our one-sentence snow policy: “Do not risk your life to promote the latest cocktail trend.” I do take our responsibilities seriously and I know that our work is crucial to our clients’ success, but I also know that no one will die if we make a typo, send something out late, mislabel a photo or take a snow day even when it’s not really snowing.

  1. It’s all about the people, people.

No 25-year career is without its bad moments. I try not to dwell on them. I like to dwell on the positives and they all revolve around people. From the mentors who believed in me, to the boss who laid me off so I had to start my business, to the person who gave me my first restaurant account, it’s always people who make the difference in business and life. I try to surround myself with the best, most supportive, happiest, funniest, smartest people I can find.MLA_Logo25years

Check back in 2042 to see what I learn over the next 25 years!

Melissa Libby & Associates (MLA) is known in Atlanta as the go-to restaurant and food/beverage PR agency. Since 1992, the energetic team has successfully opened over 400 restaurants. A normal day might include orchestrating a buzz-inducing opening party, writing clever copy to inspire interest from media, creating powerful social media strategies, and having a really good time. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and has spent the past decade on the prestigious school’s board of directions, most recently as president. She is also involved in numerous food-related organizations and always willing to lend a hand to publicize a worthy group’s event. Her biggest claim to fame is taking Julia Child through the McDonald’s drive-thru!

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