Canada’s Leading Public Relations Firms Commit to Strategic Actions Against Racism

TORONTO, July 10, 2020 — The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) today shared a commitment to six strategic actions that Canadian agencies can take to help eradicate racism, discrimination and inequity, both inside the public relations consulting industry and in its work with clients, stakeholders and society.

The actions, drafted by a CCPRF Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, covers six broad areas to be addressed by each signatory agency in its own customized plan:

  1. Leadership: The anti-racism commitment must start at the top, and the industry’s current leadership ranks are not diverse enough. Leaders and their firms commit themselves to understanding and removing barriers to the recruitment, retention, advancement and experience of professionals from underrepresented backgrounds.
  2. Recruitment: Firms will audit and enhance their recruitment processes to achieve an ongoing, measurable improvement in the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour at all levels. They will bring an equity lens to hiring, and work with educational institutions to improve the diversity of the available talent pool.
  3. Training & development: Training for managers and employees must include instruction on how to recognize and eliminate unconscious bias. The firms will create safe spaces for employees from underrepresented backgrounds to share their experiences, and ensure mentoring, support and opportunities for them to showcase their skills and rise to senior leadership roles.
  4. Client work, content & partnerships: Firms will be proactive in advocating that clients invest in greater engagement and communication with people and communities who are under-represented in institutions and organizations with power. They will also ensure diverse, inclusive representation in their content and supplier partnerships.
  5. Social investment & philanthropy: Each firm commits to make equity and anti-racism core elements of its corporate social investment and philanthropy.
  6. Accountability: CCPRF will set clear benchmarks and targets, measure performance, and report on key metrics such as representation and pay equity at all levels.

“This commitment flows from overdue self-reflection, conversations with employees and experts, and a determination for purposeful, sustained and strategic action to advance equity and fight racism,” said Daniel Tisch, CEO of Argyle Public Relationships, who chairs the CCPRF Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. “By bringing competitors together to collaborate to fight racism, we aim to get greater scale, impact and change.”

Thirteen agencies have endorsed the commitment so far (see list below). CCPRF is strongly encouraging others to do so in the months to come, and to participate in industry-wide data collection and accountability.

“CCPRF is sponsoring and endorsing this work because agency leaders can play a powerful role in positive social change by listening more, learning more and doing more to help eradicate discrimination, racism and inequity. Our members are taking a leadership role in our profession.” said Judy Lewis, the Chair of CCPRF and co-founder and partner at Strategic Objectives.

These agencies have endorsed the commitment so far:

Apex PR
Argyle
Broad Reach Communications
Casacom
Citizen Relations
Edelman Canada
Energi PR
GCI Canada
Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada
Media Profile
Paradigm
Proof Strategies
Strategic Objectives

The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms is a national organization of leading public relations consulting agencies operating in Canada.

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 For further Information please contact:

Judy Lewis, Chair of CCPRF, and Co-founder and Partner, Strategic Objectives
judylewis@strategicobjectives.com

Daniel Tisch, Chair of CCPRF Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, and CEO, Argyle Public Relationships
DTisch@argylepr.com

Un engagement contre le racisme, pour la diversité et l’inclusion de la part des firmes de relations publiques du Canada

Nous, soussignées, à titre de dirigeantes des principales sociétés de relations publiques du Canada, joignons nos voix en opposition au racisme, tant au pays qu’à l’étranger. Nous sommes solidaires avec nos employées et les militantes qui sont le reflet du courant dominant de notre société qui demande du changement.

Nous comprenons que nous devons écouter, apprendre et en faire davantage pour éradiquer le racisme, les inégalités et tout type de discrimination — tant au sein de notre profession que dans notre travail auprès de la clientèle, des parties prenantes et de la société.

Chacune de nos organisations s’engage donc à mettre en branle immédiatement les six actions stratégiques suivantes :

  1. Leadership: Nous comprenons que cet engagement contre le racisme doit prendre racine au haut de l’échelle, et que nos équipes actuelles de dirigeantes ne sont pas assez diversifiées. C’est pour cela que nous nous engageons, nous et nos firmes, à comprendre et à éliminer les obstacles au recrutement, à la rétention, à l’avancement et à l’expérience globale des professionnelles issues de milieux sous-représentés.
  2. Recrutement: Nous allons auditer et améliorer nos processus de recrutement afin de tendre vers une amélioration constante et mesurable de la représentation des personnes noires, autochtones et racisées à tous les niveaux. Nous intégrerons une perspective d’équité au processus d’embauche, incluant un engagement à travailler avec les établissements d’enseignement pour améliorer la diversité du bassin de talents disponibles.
  3. Formation et perfectionnement: Nous veillerons à ce que nos programmes de formation destinés aux gestionnaires et aux employées comprennent explicitement des instructions sur la façon de reconnaître et d’éliminer les biais inconscients. Cela implique également de créer des espaces sécuritaires afin que les employées de milieux sous-représentés partagent leurs expériences, et de veiller à ce qu’il y ait un mentorat, un soutien et la possibilité pour ces employées de démontrer leurs expertises et d’accéder à des postes de haute direction dans nos entreprises.
  4. Travail auprès de la clientèle, contenus et partenariats : Nous serons proactifs en préconisant que la clientèle prenne des engagements et améliore sa communication avec les personnes et les communautés sous-représentées dans les institutions de pouvoir. Cela signifie également que nous viserons à assurer une représentation diversifiée et inclusive dans tous les contenus que nous créons et dans nos partenariats avec le milieu créatif et les fournisseurs de contenus.
  5. Investissement social et philanthropie: Nous nous engageons à faire de l’équité et de la lutte contre le racisme des éléments centraux de nos investissements sociaux et philanthropiques respectifs, chaque entreprise choisissant des initiatives et des causes adaptées à ses activités, à ses valeurs et à ses communautés.
  6. Responsabilisation: Nous nous engageons à établir des points de repère et des objectifs clairs, à mesurer notre rendement et à produire, pour notre secteur, des rapports sur des paramètres clés comme la représentation et l’équité salariale à tous les niveaux.

Nous savons que la lutte contre le racisme, la discrimination et les inégalités est un effort à long terme qui exige une action soutenue et stratégique, une évaluation rigoureuse et une communication courageuse. Cela signifie aussi soutenir et adopter le changement. Alors qu’entre nous, nous sommes en concurrence sur le marché, nous collaborons ensemble pour prendre ces engagements envers nos employées, notre profession et notre société.

Apex PR – Linda Andross & Kenneth Evans, Managing Partners

Argyle – Daniel Tisch, President & CEO

Broad Reach Communications – Andrea Lekushoff, President

Casacom – Tricia Doyle, Managing Director

Citizen Relations – Nick Cowling, President

Edelman Canada – Lisa Kimmel, CEO

Energi PR – Carol Levine, CEO & Co-Founder

GCI Canada – Kristy Derkson, General Manager & Senior Vice President

Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada – Sheila Wisniewski, President + CEO

Media Profile – Alison King, President

Paradigm – Mike Abbass & Tracey Bochner, Partners

Proof Strategies – Bruce MacLellan, President & CEO

Strategic Objectives – Judy Lewis & Deborah Weinstein, Co-founders & Partners

An Anti-racism, Diversity & Inclusion Commitment from Canada’s Public Relations Firms

We, the undersigned, as leaders of major Canadian public relations firms, join our voices in opposition to racism and discrimination, both in our country and abroad. We stand with our employees, with the activists and advocates, and the growing mainstream in our society that seeks change.

We understand that we must listen more, learn more, and do more to eradicate racism, inequity and discrimination of all kinds – both inside our profession and in our work with clients, stakeholders and society.

Each firm therefore commits to the following six strategic actions, starting immediately:

  1. Leadership: We understand that this anti-racism commitment must start at the top, and that our current leadership ranks are not diverse enough. That is why we commit ourselves and our firms to understanding and removing barriers to the recruitment, retention, advancement and experience of professionals from underrepresented backgrounds.
  2. Recruitment: We will audit and enhance our recruitment processes to achieve an ongoing, measurable improvement in the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour at all levels. We will bring an equity lens to the hiring process, including a commitment to working with educational institutions to improve the diversity of the available talent pool.
  3. Training & development: We will ensure our training programs for managers and employees explicitly include instruction on how to recognize and eliminate unconscious bias. This also means creating safe spaces for employees from underrepresented backgrounds to share their experiences, and ensuring there is mentoring, support and opportunities for them to showcase their skills, and to rise to senior leadership roles.
  4. Client work, content & partnerships: We will be proactive in advocating that clients invest in greater engagement and communication with people and communities who are under- represented in institutions and organizations with power in Canadian society. This also means seeking to ensure diverse, inclusive representation in the content we create, and in our partnerships with content creators and suppliers.
  5. Social investment & philanthropy: We commit to making equity and anti-racism core elements of our respective corporate social investments and philanthropy, with each firm selecting initiatives and causes appropriate to its business, values and communities.
  6. Accountability: We commit to setting clear benchmarks and targets, measuring our performance, and reporting as an industry association on key metrics such as representation and pay equity at all levels.

We know that the fight against racism, discrimination and inequity is a long-term effort that requires sustained and strategic action, rigorous measurement and courageous communication. It also means advocating and embracing change. While we compete in the marketplace, we collaborate in making these commitments to our employees, our profession and our society.

Signatories

Apex PR – Linda Andross & Kenneth Evans, Managing Partners

Argyle – Daniel Tisch, President & CEO

Broad Reach Communications – Andrea Lekushoff, President

Casacom – Tricia Doyle, Managing Director

Citizen Relations – Nick Cowling, President

Edelman Canada – Lisa Kimmel, CEO

Energi PR – Carol Levine, CEO & Co-Founder

GCI Canada – Kristy Derkson, General Manager & Senior Vice President

Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada – Sheila Wisniewski, President + CEO

Media Profile – Alison King, President

Paradigm – Mike Abbass & Tracey Bochner, Partners

Proof Strategies – Bruce MacLellan, President & CEO

Strategic Objectives – Judy Lewis & Deborah Weinstein, Co-founders & Partners

All Canadian public relations firms that meet the CCPRF membership criteria are invited to join us in making this commitment.

Judy Lewis, Cofounder of Strategic Objectives, Named Chair of Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms

TORONTO, October 22, 2018 – The board and members of the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF), the only national organization of leading public relations consulting firms operating in Canada, are pleased to announce the appointment of Judy Lewis as Chair of the organization effective October 2018. Lewis takes over from David Gordon, previously Managing Partner of Cohn & Wolfe, who served as Chair of CCPRF since 2013. CCPRF is dedicated to promoting the role of public relations in business strategy and organizational development and performance in Canada.

Judy Lewis is the Cofounder and Partner of Strategic Objectives. A recognized leader in the communications industry, Lewis provides senior counsel to many of the world’s leading brands and has brought corporate social responsibility to heightened importance throughout many organizations. Lewis has been active in CCPRF since its founding in 2001.

“Public relations agencies are experiencing both growth and diversification. CCPRF plays an important role in advocating on behalf of the industry and advancing the ethics and reputation of public relations as a vital strategy to connect with consumers and stakeholders. As organizations recognize the demand for more transparency in both B2C and B2B markets, public relations firms play an important role in helping to navigate communications, while being true to a code of ethics that aligns with best practices,” says Lewis. “On behalf of the CCPRF, I want to sincerely thank David Gordon for his leadership and dedication. Moving forward, my mission will be to continue to advance the reputation of our industry and demonstrate the ongoing value and contributions our members make to communities, businesses and our country”.

Public relations firms are now offering more diverse services than ever before and are making even more significant contributions to marketing and all aspects of external communications, advocacy and reputation management. As media and the marketing environment have changed, CCPRF member firms have evolved to be at the forefront – providing greater depth of services and opportunities. Consumers crave more information and experiences, are active in multiple digital channels and are influenced by new and emerging digital opinion leaders who are no longer only esteemed academics and media. CCPRF member firms identify the right solutions to communication challenges and bring the experience and resources to their clients, providing valuable insights to help them make the right decisions and enabling them to maintain and advance their relevance and success. To see a complete list of CCPRF’s member firms visit our website, here.

“I have a passion for contributing to the advancement of the very best in public relations and for the entrepreneurial spirit that is so integral to Canada’s leading public relations firms that are CCPRF members. I truly look forward to working with my CCPRF colleagues to advance the value and reputation of public relations.” concludes Lewis.

Lewis is a long-time leader in the communications field. Her firm is the only Canadian agency to have ever been recognized by the United Nations with an award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Relations. A native of Montreal and graduate of McGill, Lewis serves on the Boards of several non-profit organizations, and is the Chair of Centennial College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations Advisory Committee. Lewis also serves as the communications strategist for The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking and is the recipient of both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Canada and the Communications Industry.

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For further information about the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms or to learn how to become a member of CCPRF please visit www.ccprf.ca or contact: Judy Lewis 416 366-7735.

 

2015’s Biggest PR Hits And Misses

Whoever said you that you can’t take brand equity to the bank never dealt with a knife to their reputation — a hemorrhage that would put them squarely in the public eye and expose them to the harsh judgment of the folks that count the most. Looking back over 2015, some notable stories stood out for being classic PR blunders, but there do exist a few situations that give us hope that doing right by doing good is still possible.

The year began badly for Halifax’s Dalhousie University when some dentistry students posted degrading comments about their female colleagues on Facebook. Later, a medical student facing expulsion told his psychiatrist about a plan to stab an associate dean and her daughter and shoot up to 20 people. And, as if things couldn’t get worse, a student about to start medical school was charged with murdering another student.

From a PR lens, one crisis was easily preventable because fostering a paternalistic culture in 2015 should have been detected and corrected before it was exposed on social media. Dalhousie came under harsh criticism on a number of levels, from failing to protect the physical and psychological well-being of their community, to paying more than $300,000 for outside communications counsel. Ironically, it’s been reported that student applications are at the same level as last year, but I question how they are doing on endowments.Jared Fogle

Subway’s longtime pitchman, Jared Fogle, was a striking example of what can go wrong when your brand is tied to a single individual. It wasn’t all that long ago that Lance Armstrong demonstrated how fast adulation can unravel. It’s a lesson marketers should have learned from.

Fogle’s weight-loss story made him a celebrity and Subway a lot of dough. But their relationship came crashing down after Fogle’s home was raided by the FBI looking for links to child pornography. Social media was quick to judge him with followers on Twitter practically begging for a response from Subway. When none was forthcoming, they formed their own opinions.

Part of my training as a PR professional is to gauge how an initiative can hurt as much as help. This negative thinking has been a valuable strategic imperative.

Subway eventually severed ties to Jared Fogle who was sentenced to many years behind bars. The lesson here is to be clear on your position of zero tolerance, understanding that customers are families who will make their decisions with their wallets. If Subway can retake ownership of their brand and define what they stand for, they should be able to repair the damage and move on.

As the owner of a Volkswagen, the company’s scheme to fool regulators and consumers hit particularly close to home.

The Volkswagen debacle is among the year’s worst corporate blunders, and no air bag on earth will cushion the blow to Volkswagen’s trustworthiness. When you mess up, you need to fess up and show how you are going to clean it up. VW never got the memo.

At the time the story broke, the company stayed silent. Despite the legal implications, I would have advised their CEO to display greater empathy to help soften the dents to their reputation. VW is not nearly as communicative or contrite as they need to be and it will hurt them. While other car manufacturers have climbed out of the abyss before, the road ahead for VW looks pretty bumpy.

Charlie Sheen’s disclosure that he is HIV positive reopened the conversation on HIV/AIDS and depending on you look at it, could provide Sheen a noble way to rehabilitate his bad-boy image.

While treatment of HIV/AIDS has improved dramatically, stigma and discrimination are still entrenched which might explain why he kept it a secret. Social media commentators were quick to say that the only upside of the announcement is to generate sympathy for Sheen, but I am optimistic. If Sheen can use his celebrity as a teaching moment he has the potential to shine a powerful spotlight on the burden of this disease — if that’s the case, he will be doing a great service to society.

You couldn’t buy a better story than that of our young, attractive #CDNFirstFamily.

It’s Canada’s version of Camelot or Trudeau: The Next Generation, and it’s a warm, engaging and human story that many are happy to soak up. And what is PR if not the building and nurturing of deep, trusted relationships between an organization and its diverse publics?

The Liberal government has hit all the high notes in terms of trying to regain public trust by positioning their leader as approachable, transparent and authentic. Justin Trudeau’s proclivity for taking selfies and posing for glam shots in Vogue seem to be working out just fine — no damage control needed.

What this revitalized image of our national government means in a practical sense here at home or on the world stage remains to be seen, but we can end the year knowing that at least the PMO knows a thing or two about good PR.

Carol Levine, APR, FCPRS, is CEO and Co-Founder of energi PR, a national public relations agency. She is Immediate Past Chair of the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms, the industry association that represents Canada’s leading PR agencies.

 

What It Takes

Written by Marlo Taylor, partner and general manager, energi PR

Dear aspiring PR practitioner,

Today, I received your application to be an intern at our firm. It was thorough and everything was spelled correctly. You are obviously bright and accomplished. It seems you have worked hard and done well. And your resume went straight over to the pile of folks I will likely never call. Harsh? Perhaps. But in an industry as ultra-competitive as ours, it’s a tough reality. Most resumes don’t get past my inbox.

intern

But what is it that differentiates one resume from another? How do we decide who to see? Who to hire? The most honest answer I can give you, other than a basic understanding of the role, is that I want to know that you want this job. I want to see that when you were learning about PR you were also looking for ways to try out that learning. I want to see that you volunteered to manage the media for a local fundraiser or found ways to publicize a friend’s play or spent time drafting brochures for a small charity. You would really stand out to me if you could provide a few well-articulated examples of attempts you made that didn’t work out as well – and what it taught you about succeeding as a communications professional. Be creative. Look around. Dig deep and figure out where there is a need and go answer it.

In my opinion, passion trumps skill every time. As senior PR people, we can – and are happy to – teach you the technical side of the business, but being hungry to learn and grow can only come from you.

We all hear the same song: jobs require experience but how can I get experience without a job? Frankly, I call BS on that one. There is no end of organizations that are starved for volunteer communications support. If you really want to be a PR practitioner, you will find those opportunities and turn them into the experience you need to set yourself apart.

What I’ve learned after 15 years in the industry is that success comes to those who work hard and have that fire in their bellies. I’ve also learned that sometimes the greatest success and learning comes when you’re prepared to jump into the deep end of the ocean, even if you don’t feel 100 per cent prepared, just because there is the inspiring and amazing chance that you will learn – and become – something new.  Often, it’s the first of many rungs on an exciting and highly gratifying ladder.

So, go for it. Seek those opportunities and eat up the lessons they throw at you. And, I look forward to seeing your resume in my inbox next time around.

Sincerely,

MT

 

 

 

What I’m taking with me

By Marieve Murphy, intern, energi PR.

It feels like just last week I was walking into the energi PR office, eager and a little nervous about my first day. Now, three months later, I’m wrapping up my internship and taking a moment to reflect on my time here.  No two days have been the same; it’s been an exciting journey with challenges and successes along the way.  I’ve been constantly amazed at how adaptable my colleagues are; observing how they handle numerous situations and approach their day to day workload has taught me so much about the industry. In my time here I know I’ve learnt things that can’t be taught in a classroom or studied in a textbook. There really is no replacement for hands-on experience, and I’d like to share what I’m taking away from my time at energi.

  1. It’s All in the Details: A lot goes on in the office on any given day, and some days it feels like my inbox is overflowing! But one of the most valuable things I learned is that the details really do matter. Taking the time to personalize an e-mail, or making a quick thank you call to someone who went out of their way for you can make all the difference.

 

  1. The Art of Prioritizing: It really amazes me how calm, cool and collected my colleagues remain even when work piles up quickly. I quickly learned that prioritizing your workload is not only effective, but it can seriously reduce stress. It may seem simple, but writing a prioritized list of your tasks and checking them off one by one brings a surprising amount of satisfaction.

 

  1. Asking for Help: For some reason, asking for help in the workplace can be seen as a sign of weakness, but asking for help doesn’t mean you aren’t capable. I’ve learned that having a second pair of eyes or ears is invaluable. Most of our best or most innovative ideas have been a result of brainstorming as a whole team.

 

  1. Celebrating your successes: It’s been pretty cool to be a part of a team that takes the time to celebrate each other’s successes, and it’s taught me that recognizing each other and even your own achievements is important! It’s motivating for the whole team and I really think it paves the way for future successes.

 

Lastly, the friendships that I’ve made in my time here are the most important take away. I couldn’t have imagined a more welcoming, supportive and fun group of colleagues to work with.  Along the way they offered a lot of guidance, some great advice and a ton of laughs.  As I’m leaving I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone at energi for all that you’ve taught me in the past three months! I’m leaving with new skills, great friendships and fond memories. Thank you!

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Marieve Murphy

Marieve Murphy

Investing in the Future of PR: Here’s why you should care about the students of today

Written by Lauren Wasley, Creative Media & PR Strategist, energi PR.

I get it, working in PR is busy.  But we’re not the only ones juggling packed schedules. Between working, household errands and family obligations, maintaining a semblance of a social life can be a challenge. Now, on top of this, we’re often asked to meet with, and/or mentor, students and young professionals. It might seem like an unnecessary addition to an already full agenda, but I disagree. Here’s why:

1 – Pay it forward: Yes, I am referring to the movie with Helen Hunt and that little boy from the Sixth Sense. If you make the time, and we can all make time, to help, it’s likely that you’ll encourage the same giving behaviour in the person you’re meeting. So when they’re in your shoes, they’ll look back and listen to that little angel on their shoulder telling them to do a good thing.

2 – You were once them: Kinda like invasion of the body-snatchers, but not really. There was a time when you were fresh out of school, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (I still don’t get that reference) and you needed advice on how to get started in your career. If you were fortunate, a kind soul took pity on you and taught you the ropes and, if not, well then you know how hard it can be.

3 – You never know where they’ll go: PR is a small industry and if you switch Kevin Bacon for yourself in the Six Degrees of Separation game, you’ll likely connect to everyone. That fresh-faced practitioner could end up working with your newest client and it would probably help to be on their good side. Also yet another helpful reminder as to why you should never burn a bridge.

So next time you get an email or LinkedIn message from a student asking to meet for coffee, say yes.  Volunteering your time is a great way to give back and if it leads to a new friendship or business connection that’s just an added bonus.

A business spin on inflated balls

deflated_balls

My first admission is that I know very little about football. Yes, my hubby was a Montreal Alouettes season ticket holder and yes, I did dress head to toe in orange at a Tennessee VOLS game to tailgate and moonshine. I also, most recently, coughed up cash to buy a signed Anthony Calvillo football for charity.

All that aside, what I do know is that having balls is considered to be a desirable attribute and synonymous with having guts, being bold and taking no prisoners. This past week sports, mainstream news reporters and late night talk show hosts had a field day with the language and innuendo about inflated and deflated balls and it got me thinking about what it means to have balls in business.

I found more questions than answers.

Does having balls mean being confident, professional, innovative and a risk taker? Or, is it being haughty, self-absorbed, arrogant or dismissive? Is the reference gender specific meaning that smart, accomplished, strong and assertive women can’t have balls? Can we turn the tables to suggest that the ambivalent, weak or needy of the male species can be lacking in the balls department?

As a business woman I am not alone in decrying the double standard which to this day describes strong women as aggressive, and strong men as assertive. Has this changed dramatically over the past twenty years or so? I would say not so much. Girls are socialized to do a sweet pirouette, even when they are the 7th ranked female tennis player in the world. Can you imagine a man being asked to do the same thing? Not a chance! Not men who hit balls across a net for a living.

In business we all experience the joys of being inflated through our successes or once in a while feeling the funk of having our wings clipped. After 35 years in business I know that it’s never just about winning the pitch or the money that may come along with it. Having balls in business is all about standing up for what you believe in, having conviction, being the best you can be and being proud of what you do and with whom you are associated. And for those times when we get kicked you know where, our language may sound like “sour grapes” but it’s not. It’s the echo of having developed perfectly inflated and professional balls.

 

How tilting your pelvis can help your business

Written by Marlo Taylor, partner and general manager, energi PR.

Four or five months ago, I joined a new gym. It really is a wonderful place featuring two brilliant trainers. Let’s call them Brian and Francis, which makes sense, given that their names are Brian and Francis.

Brian and Francis are everything you’d hope for in a trainer: knowledgeable, kind, challenging. But they share a knack for summarily ruining every exercise I used to enjoy from single leg dead lifts to planks. The problem? The pelvic tilt.

It would seem that my pelvis is a lazy little rascal (seriously, who would have thought I’d ever type that sentence?). It would rather hang out and wait for my work out to be over than hold itself tilted and tight in proper form. Every single time it seems Brian or Francis have to remind me to pause and reset my pesky pelvis. The challenge is that it makes every exercise exponentially harder. Harder in a “I @#$^! hate this” sort of way.

Recently, as I was hip bridging my way through my warm up with the requisite pausing and resetting, I realized I was stronger. The movement was more fluid and I could tackle even the most challenging parts of my work out with greater ease. Could that tiny, consistent really account for the dawning of this new workout day?

As I was sharing this aha moment with Francis, it struck me that businesses could learn from this simple approach.

The business of public relations is made up of a number of tasks that, over time, risk being done somewhat by rote. Press releases, media monitoring and outreach, even writing and planning have the potential to become stale. There is a tendency to succumb to what is known, comfortable, and, often, even tried and true. This is where businesses can stagnate. Where they stop pushing to bigger and better things. Where creativity dies.

So, with my tilted pelvis a-blazing, I challenged my team to start 2015 with a commitment to that moment of extra thoughtfulness and purposeful movement in mind. It adds nothing to someone’s work load to pause, and think: Do I have everything I need to perform this task to the best of my ability? Is there anything else I can add to this process? Is there any change I should make before proceeding?

This pause also reinforces to young, dynamic and keen team members, that their thoughts and ideas are important. It opens doors to their input in strategic decisions and encourages them to suggest ways in which we can all do – and think – better. Small, incremental improvements mean we finish the task stronger and better than we were before. It might seem harder at first (see aforementioned dead lifts and planks) but the aha moment isn’t far away.

As we all know, businesses and clients thrive when we apply the best of what we know to each task and situation. But that is true even when the conversations are harder. Even when we’re tired and “good enough” might meet the expectation. Even when our clients are happy (isn’t that a kicker?). Even then there is room to ask ourselves: Do I have everything I need to perform this task? Is there anything else I can add to this process? Is there any change I should make before proceeding?

Sometimes, improving efficiency and effectiveness is complicated. And, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, you just need to reset, take a breath, and expect the best of your team and their ability to think and perform. So tilt away and if you ever run into Brian and Francis remember to say thanks.

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Marlo Taylor

Marlo Taylor