To wrap up our series on the value of experience in PR, we will look at if experience is actually helping us or holding us back.
On one side of the coin, experience is an incredibly valuable business asset that a certain Mr. Shakespeare referred to as a jewel. Even in the rapidly changing technology industry, experience has proven time and again to be the difference between the winners and losers. Yes, there are the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s no coincidence that as their companies grow and come under pressure to generate profits, they quickly fill their management teams with experienced executives.
The danger comes when people cling to experience and fail to acknowledge and embrace changes. People naturally fear change, but for anyone who works in PR, resisting it at either a strategic or tactical level is a fast way to obsolesce. Of course wisdom gained from past experience should be factored in, but it is only one factor to consider.
So how do we deliver innovative campaigns that give us the opportunity to appropriately apply experience and embrace change? One answer comes from the experts at the Innovator’s DNA. Their recent book includes a four-step process they call the Innovator’s Method. It encourages people to start by casting a wide net for insights, spend time exploring the problems and to evaluate the potential solutions before nailing down the strategy. It may sound simple enough, but when pushed for time (which of course no one ever is in this industry), we all know it can be tempting to simply apply past experiences and jump straight into developing the strategy and tactics.
Is experience an anchor or an asset for PR pros then? The answer is it can be either. If we simply rely on recalling and repeating the strategies and tactics of 5 or 10 years ago, we leave so many opportunities on the table. If we use the number of years experience we have to justify decisions and viewpoints, we risk missing out on fresh ideas and insights. And if we stick rigidly to former ways and don’t embrace new channels and forms of content, we have little hope of reaching and engaging audiences in a meaningful way.
It’s an exciting time. The rules are being rewritten. And PR has a huge opportunity. If we can use our experience wisely and embrace the changes, we can reach and engage audiences in new ways. So next time the temptation comes up to use past experiences as the primary guide for strategies or tactics, think first about what has changed and don’t focus on the problems that creates…but the opportunities it presents.