The daily grind of a public relations practitioner is vastly different when compared to most military jobs, but some lessons from the front lines could be related to any PR major looking to hone his/her skills.
Although the stakes may obviously differ greatly in comparison, there are still ways to use knowledge taken from those who were trained to defend their country and use some information that could be relevant in any public relations’ office.
Here are a few from an old retired Marine infantry sergeant.
Attention to detail
In the military, the tiniest of mistakes can compromise a mission and have disastrous results. Troops often train for weeks/months at a time in order to have not have a mistake when there is no room for error.
Public relations is a fast-paced industry but there is always a need for properly written documents and accurate research. If there is a lot of pressure to reach a deadline that is fast approaching, remembering the small details is still a necessity.
In the middle of combat, those that can stay calm and remember their training usually end up as the victors. My drill instructors used to call this “controlled chaos,” and one of company’s DI’s had the phrase tattooed down the back of his arms.
In PR, one wrong statement at a press conference could be on the front page (“I just want my life back” was on the front page of every newspaper when the BP spokesperson forgot the scope of his words). Remembering your core message during times of crisis is a necessity, and keeping a level-head will usually prevail.
Being a Team Player
Before a mission there is a routine to ensure the patrol will be successful. Pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections are meticulously conducted before every trip “outside the wire,” and checking and double checking gear, radios and weapons is not one squad member’s responsibility, but the entire unit does their part to stay prepared for all scenarios.
Providing a message to the public often takes a group effort, and being accountable and reliable is absolutely imperative when the team is counting on everyone to contribute. Don’t let your squad down when they need you the most.
As a Marine, I was often told there were only two goals for any mission:1) Mission Accomplishment 2) Troop Welfare – and in that order.
There will always be time to rest and enjoy the comforts of life, but not until the mission has been completed to the high commands’ expectations. Public Relations can often work the same way. When a crisis erupts or a deadline is pressing, taking personal time may be out of the question until the needs of the client are met. Early mornings, long days and late nights may be necessary at times, but a good boss will always recognize the extra effort. Giving something back to the troops after a job well-done is always appreciated and will ensure good morale.
Work Hard – Play Hard
Why do people with the most stressful jobs always seem to know how to have the most fun?