At face value, you might wonder what PR and performing have in common. I don’t blame you! On one hand, they’re very different professions. However, the skill set involved in succeeding at both are quite similar. As someone who considers herself both a performer and a PR professional, I’d like to share the commonalities and what I’ve learned!
Both a PR professional and a performer are storytellers at their core. A PR pro must bring to life their client’s story and make it interesting to the media and their readers. Likewise, a performer is telling a story, be it their own or someone else’s, that they need to convincingly portray as their own. In the end, both need to have knowledge and passion for the story they’re telling in order for the audience to pay attention.
In order to win over an audience, a performer must communicate their story in a way that makes an emotional impact. This communication can be both verbal and nonverbal. You know a performer has effectively communicated the story when you laugh, cry, or otherwise empathize as you watch their performance. For a PR person, communication is critical to their every day functioning. They must communicate with their clients, the media and their internal team. A misstep could lose a story, jeopardize potential new business or alienate current clientele. When you read a great article, you can bet a killer PR pro was involved!
Both performers and PR pros should have personality. This doesn’t always mean they’re likable, but definitely memorable. Of course it’s great when everybody loves you, but having personality means you stand out. A PR pro who is known for being stern yet confident, ambitious yet humble, or strategic yet fair can be equally (if not more) valuable than the publicist who is always agreeable. For a performer, you don’t always have to play the “good guy” to stand out. Some of our favorite actors are villains and some of our best comedians are antagonistic. The important thing is to ring true to who you are, be respectful and work hard. If you’re prepared, your personality will stand out and the opportunity will bring success.
If you’re struggling in your PR game or feel like you’ve hit a wall, you might want to give performing a shot! You’ll probably find it’s not all that different — or scary — from what you’re used to doing. Here are a few things that we think PR pros can learn from performers:
1. Loosen up a bit. GOOD PR people tend to be planners, as the job requires major preparation and attention to detail. While a performer also must prepare heavily for a role and be specific and detail-orientated in their choices, once they begin the act of the performing they let go of everything that came before and live in that moment. This ability to rely on their preparation and react spontaneously to new situations makes performers extremely versatile, which is a skill that benefits a PR person facing unexpected challenges.
2. Be authentic. Some PR professionals are given a bad rap for being fake. A great publicist knows how to balance promoting something without being untrue, a hard skill to master. A performer knows that inauthenticity is the kiss of death. If you don’t truly believe what you are saying and doing, the audience will instantly see through you. You then become an actor performing and not the character they’re watching. The best advice we have for PR pros is to take on projects and clients you truly believe in. However, this is not always an option. Similarly, you aren’t always cast in a role you can relate to. In both situations, you have to find something you can attach to and run with that! In acting, they say judging your character is a sure path to failure, which can very well be the same in PR.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure: the scariest “F” word of all. Often in PR, your clients will request something that seems impossible. Of course you can’t get a brand new business owner on the cover of Forbes, but often times, publicists talk themselves out of going after the big “moonshot” opportunities because of their own fear that they can’t deliver. Performers are guilty of this too. More often than not, a performer stands in his/her own way. Their inner insecure voice keeps them from doing the preparation they need to succeed or taking the risk in their performance that their instincts told them to. Accept that you will fail, probably many times over. It sounds cheesy, but if you always got it right, you would never learn. The times I’ve blown a phone pitch have helped me strengthen my etiquette. The moments I’ve bombed on stage have taught me how to trust in my talent and recover quickly. It’s all part of the process!
You can see me performing next at The Comedy Store April 8th, 12th, and 19th at 7:30pm in the Belly Room. I also host a segment on NRPR TV (Facebook Live) where I lead our awesome team in improv exercises to help us all loosen up, get creative and think outside the box. Join us Wednesdays at 2 PM PT to follow along!
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