By Meredith D’Agostino, Director of Media Relations Strategy, 451 Marketing
In late January 2015 I went on maternity leave literally in the thick of the snowiest winter on record for Boston. My son was born in early February during yet another snowstorm—a healthy, happy baby with a thick head of hair and a sweet smile.
Before I became a new mom, I tried my best to prepare for my new “role”—I read blogs, I carried around the hefty What to Expect like a new accessory, I asked my mom friends what bottles to register for. But like any new mom, the entire experience was anything but what I expected, from the moment delivery began to, well, today.
While home I took a step back for the first time in years from the day-to-day of my PR career. I realized there are a lot of similarities between being a new mom and working in PR. There were moments where getting accustomed to my newborn was like bringing on a new client—you’re excited and nervous, and at the end you just want to do your best to make them happy.
- It takes a village. While we have individual wins, the core of a successful PR campaign is the team behind it. When I think of our amazing programs at 451 Marketing, our results were from the efforts of a team of people working together. We brainstormed strategies as a group, helped each other when the campaign activities ramped up, and cheered each other on to reach the finish line. Raising a kid is very similar. While there are many people out there who are raising a family solo (and I give them huge kudos), it’s nice to have a team of family, friends, and/or neighbors to assist. Whether it’s bringing over dinner or watching the baby so you can nap, I realized the necessity of having that team by your side at home as much as at work.
- Trust your instincts. When you’re pitching an editor or executing an event, your instincts kick in. Maybe you have a feeling that you should go for a different angle on a pitch because it’s going to pique the editor’s interest more. Or something’s telling you to bring umbrellas to that media event just in case, even though the forecast calls for sun. In PR you need to follow that voice because in many cases it’s right. Same with babies! Even if he doesn’t have a fever, your instinct is telling you to have the pediatrician check out that rash on his leg. By being used to listening to that voice at work (which was often right), I realized it has opinions on kid-related topics too—and it’s worth heeding in both cases.
- Late nights. This one is pretty self-explanatory. When you work in PR, there are going to be late nights at the office (or early mornings), or a crisis at 10 p.m. You need to be able to respond quickly to assess the situation. Experience with these off-hour opportunities had me prepared to wake up at a moment’s notice on maternity leave—although the alert was a tiny cry from my son, not an email ping from my phone. In both cases I was thankful for that first … and second … and third cup of coffee!
- Schedule changes on a dime. In PR, your day can shift in an instant and you need to be flexible. I love making to-do lists, but I’m constantly rewriting them at work based on what’s going on that day. I found that flexibility to be important when you’re getting through the day with a newborn—and then when you’re trying to get a baby, husband, and yourself out the door in the morning! Even on maternity leave, I was making task lists for the day, but knew that based on my son’s schedule, I’d need to make some rewrites along the way.
- Little moments can bring the biggest joy. In PR we all love those big placements for our clients, but in some cases it’s the smaller hits that cause the biggest celebrations. For many clients, a big win may be in an industry trade publication or on an influencer’s blog versus a national TV show or magazine. And when you have a child, sometimes the little moments have the same impact as major milestones. It was exciting when he first sat up on his own and when he ate his first solid foods, but it was equally exciting when he first smiled, when he had his first playdate, and when he first noticed our two dogs.
Moms and Dads—what other similarities to raising a family and working in PR did I miss that resonate with you?