Marking my fifth year in the communications industry, I have learnt that I am truly where I want to be. Since joining PRecious Communications six months back, and working in a public relations agency, I am enjoying the fast-paced work environment. You might think the reason for this is because I am only six months in, wait till I’m three years into the job? Not really, though that could also be a reason. Do you want to know my secret?
It’s because my approach to working in an integrated communications agency such as PRecious is very similar to how I plan my scuba diving getaway! I picked up scuba diving about two years ago and have since completed over forty dives. Read on to discover the diving experiences that made me realise how the two things I am passionate about – diving and public relations – are vastly different but yet somehow similar.
Calm Inside the Storm
One of the most important life lessons that scuba diving has taught me is to stay calm and collected in difficult situations, as panicking causes more issues.
While diving, I face life or death issues several times: running low on air or a strong current that could drift me away into the abyss, and the list goes on. Naturally, these are not life or death situations unless they are mishandled. As a diver, the decisions I make at that time are crucial, and my survival instincts kick in! Let’s take running low on air as an example. Do you shoot up to the surface in fear that you will drown? Of course not, cause that will result in even more life- threatening consequences. We are coached to assess the situation, signal to our buddy or dive master and do a step by step process (which I will not bore you with) to overcome the problem you are faced with. Basically, keep calm and follow procedure!
As PR professionals, we are sometimes faced with media not turning up for an event they RSVP to, tossing our calendars to make time for urgent requests to be completed immediately, or worse yet, having to retract an email or press release with no valid explanation.
As you know, none of these situations are life or death. Our other colleagues have most likely faced these issues before. What we have in our favour is that we can communicate with our peers on how to salvage the situation, turn it around and “survive” it, which takes us to my next learning.
Suicide Squad to A-Team
In scuba diving, it is not recommended to ever be on your own. We are instructed to always go with a buddy, have the dive led by an experienced dive master or instructor and accompanied by a responsible boat crew, so that we all can help one other out should issues arise. The strongest teams are those that really respect each other and work well together.
In diving, we have to trust our dive kakis to know what they are doing and make sound decisions (potentially split-second ones that might save our lives) to keep us safe and have an enjoyable dive as well.
Similarly, at work, nobody understands the joys and frustration like our colleagues do, especially those working on the same accounts. As a newbie to agency life, I am still learning as I go. My A-team is always there to patiently teach me the dos and don’ts and are not hesitant to reach out and offer guidance, do a quick proofread or bounce ideas for a byline or press release.
From crazy Mondays to fun Fridays and everything in between, I wouldn’t be able to pull through the work weeks without them!
“Please don’t leave me. What would I do without you to see me through” – Ray Charles
The All-Essential Planning Process
A typical dive plan covers what the weather for the day is and then deciding which dive site we will be diving at. There’s often a step plan for the dive itself. You plan where you enter the water and depending on the current, where you come out. You descend to a certain depth and spend roughly 40 minutes down below, then ascend say 10 metres to do the safety stop and so on.
Likewise, as a PR professional, our work requires a structured plan and approach. We first understand the goals and requirements of our clients, then plan an effective communications outreach across the paid, earned, shared and owned media along with a timeline for the entire duration of the project. This involves zeroing in on the key message, identifying the right publication to pitch it to, creating all the assets, tracking media coverage and sharing key metrics with the client.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Diving brings people from all over the world together, creating friendships and potential business opportunities. As recently as last month I was diving in Nusa Penida, Bali, where I met divers from London, Korea and Japan. Over the course of our dive trip, we got to know each other better and connect at a deeper level (no pun intended). We share what’s best to eat, see and do in our countries to crazy life theories and experiences. We may meet as divers but part as friends and well-wishers.
Likewise, a project is just a common platform that brings different stakeholders together – from clients to media professionals. Working on the project, we understand the client’s real objective, going beyond the scope of one project. It provides us with an opportunity to add more value to their business and enhance existing projects through various PR tips and tools.
As for media professionals, it’s not just that one story that needs to get published. We get to understand their real requirement, the next story that they would like to/trying to tell. Hence, we are in a position to provide them with all the ammo that they require.
If you made it till here, I hope I managed to “spark interest” in living the agency life or taking up scuba diving. Let’s have a good laugh as to how we are all in the same boat in a stormy sea! Do share your experience with how your personal life accentuates your work life and vice-versa in the comments below so that we do not feel motion sick in this boat we are in together.
Written with a lot of passion by Priya Suraindran, Senior Client Executive at PRecious Communications.