What PR People Can Learn From Gandhi



Posted: In: Blogs Musings

Since November is all about the “good feels” and being thankful for what we have (in both our personal and professional lives), what better way to celebrate the season than to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished with a few quotes from everyone’s favorite beacon of peace?

Here, I share a few of my favorite Mahatma Gandhi quotes including how they can inspire us all to be better communications and PR professionals.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Case and point: subject matter experts. The more “of service” we are to the media, the healthier our relationships with journalists will be. AirPR CSO Rebekah Iliff, who happens to write for a range of publications from Forbes to Inc. Magazine, received a blind pitch from an account executive from Fishman Public Relations. In her email, the AE said she noticed that Rebekah often writes about both PR analytics and women-owned businesses. For the latter reason, the pitch included a list of women entrepreneurs (assumably Fishman PR clients) along with explanations of their subject matter expertise. Rebekah saved the email so she can pull it up anytime she’s seeking a source for her articles. The AE’s approach was irrefutably service-based, and successful because of it.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

If we want more PR pros to measure their efforts with effective, up-to-date metrics, we each must lead by example. Ditch the vanity metrics at the door and replace one-dimensional PR plans with PESO strategies, which require integrated Paid, Eared, Shared, and Owned media components. Recognizing that PR data bias exists is another way to fast-track progress and encourage the creation of more data-driven campaigns (as opposed to campaigns based on suspicions of what may have “worked well last time”).   

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

This has never been an easy or glamorous industry, despite how glorious it all seems at the end of the night after a successful customer event or media briefing. The reality is that we deal with rejection day in and day out until we build up street cred’ in our careers and develop our own relationships with the media. But like with anything, the more we keep at it, the more we see the fruits of our labor. So kudos to every PR pro who ever considered calling it quits, but didn’t.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

PR is a long game and even great stories will get overlooked when they’re stuck beneath a pile of pitches in a journalist’s inbox. But consistent creative thinking, showcasing the wins of others, and demonstrating how your product or service changes an industry or slice of the world for the better will always deliver in the end. (Don’t you think Gandhi would agree?)

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

When most of us began our public relations careers, we didn’t do so for the money. We chose this field because we are passionate storytellers that believe in the power of the product, whatever that may be. The real “wealth” in PR is shedding light on something that or someone who is truly changing the world for the better. We are motivated by the challenge and purpose, not by the (gold and silver) rewards.