Discovery Channel recently completed the most wonderful week of the year: SHARK WEEK!
In case you’re not familiar, it’s a weeklong shark-fest with documentary-style shows about perhaps the world’s most feared animal. While at a first glance, it might not seem applicable to PR, there are a few lessons for the publicist hidden throughout Shark Week:
1. Always Take A Chance
One point that all shark experts frequently hit home is that humans are almost NEVER the intended target of a shark attack. Usually the shark mistakes a surfer or swimmer for its usual prey: seal, fish, squid. The “attacks” are usually an exploratory bite (even an exploratory bite from a shark as large as a 20 foot Great White can be pretty devastating), and the shark usually swims away as soon as he realizes what he’s done. The PR lesson here is always take that bite. Even if a pitch or an idea seems a little wacky or unusual, play it out. Tell others about it and brainstorm. Soft pitch it to your close contacts. You never know who else might find it intriguing.
2. Stay Aggressive
This one is fairly obvious, but … the Bull Shark is infamous for being the most aggressive shark out there. They’ll eat fish, license plates, tires, rubber boots. In PR, it’s crucial to ignore obstacles and keep pushing through. Aggressive publicists often come out on top of the heap. Combined with persistence, it’s a deadly combination.
3. Keep Your Skin Thick
Physically, sharks have extremely rough and thick exteriors. They’re often found with gouges, bite marks, dorsal fin cuts, fish hooks and more. They don’t let it bring them down. They just keep swimming! People in PR will run into a lot of negativity. Rejections from reporters, naysayers on social media, drama queens in the office. It’s a great lesson: keep your skin thick and just keep on swimming!
4. Maintain the Element of Surprise
A lot of sharks use the element of surprise to catch their prey off-guard. In PR, the most unexpected or unusual idea takes the day. What worked for one client might not work for another, so don’t merely recycle ideas over the years. Publicists need to continue to innovate, create and push boundaries.
5. Save Your Energy
The Oceanic White Tip Shark (responsible for hundreds of human deaths after the sinking of the USS Indianpolis during World War II) can outlast any of its victims. It barely moves while swimming, conserving energy to make sure he is the last shark standing (swimming). This applies to PR in two ways. First, don’t get burned out. Use vacation time. Stop working at night. TAKE BREAKS. If you’re feeling played out on the job, it won’t help anyone. Secondly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Most of the things that happen in any given day should just float on past. Save your energy for the big stuff.
Signing off from Shark Week,