The One Question You Should Ask Everyone You Meet

At the risk of dating myself, who else remembers “The Sunscreen Song?” The track was put to wax by Baz Lurhmann during

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the summer of 1999 and features lyrics taken from a hypothetical commencement speech penned by Chicago Tribune Columnist Mary Schmich. The tune features some great pieces of advice. Specifically, though, it features the following advice about advice:

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

I love that line. Dispensing advice is a way of fishing from the past, taking the best parts and reusing it. While this line and the majority of the song was written with the personal aspects of life in mind, I’ve found it applies to the professional aspects of life as well, especially when you work in PR.

I mean, it makes sense, right? PR is a soft science. Sure, the numbers are hard, but the data often leads to different interpretations and you can’t learn much about what we do from a textbook. The best way to learn is to take on advice from those you respect and those in places you aspire to reach. Whenever possible, I ask the business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs I meet to share with me the best advice they have ever received. You’d be surprised how much insight such a simple question can yield.

I recently kicked the question around to my B&O colleagues, as it relates to PR, and got some interesting responses. Hopefully, some of these can help you on your own journey.

  • “Lead by example. Worry about the details. Never rest on your laurels.” – Simon Jones
  • “Never make promises you can’t keep – especially to a reporter!” – Natalie Pridham
  • “Always put yourself in the shoes of the person of who will ultimately receive what you’re working on. It helps distinguish between what’s valuable and what’s unnecessary.”– Vanessa Krooss
  • “Don’t use ‘I’ in email. We’re a team!” – Sophie Sieck
  • “Leave your work at the office and go live your life. The work will always be waiting for you when you return.” – Drew Smith
  • “When messaging: don’t position just on speeds and feeds. Clients – above all else – worry about resolution of their business problem. Start there, and then explain how your offering helps their needs.” – Tris Clark
  • “When pitching by email, get straight to the point and state your news as fast as possible.” – Julia van Broek
  • “Take credit for the work you do! It’s totally fine to give yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job when the opportunity presents itself. Besides … if you or your team doesn’t take credit for doing a good job, your client may swoop in and take it from under you.” – Chris Navalta
  • “Try not to take things too personally. It’s easier said than done when you’re passionate about your job. But know things will ALWAYS GO WRONG in our industry. Rather than let it deflate and derail you, try and focus on what you can learn and take away from the experience so you are better armed to deal with the situation next time.” – Kris Reeves

And the best advice I’ve ever received? Remember cool songs written during the years before you were of legal age to vote. They might help you write a blog post one day!

New Employee Spotlight: Nicholas Porter

Hi, guys! I’m Nicholas. I’m Blanc & Otus’ newest account supervisor. I enjoy running, listening to death metal and eating Indian food. I also really like pugs. My mind is pretty much always moving. That’s typically a good thing and a bad thing. I’m also an amazing dancer. Did I mention I also really like pugs? But enough about me – you probably want to know what I’ve learned during my first six weeks here at Blanc & Otus, don’t you? I have you covered. Read on!Nicholas Porter

West Coast Work Culture Is the Opposite of East Coast Work Culture

I’m sure some will disagree with this sentiment, but to that I say, yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. Here’s the deal. My colleagues at B&O work extremely hard. They are a creative, strategic thinking and intelligent bunch. They deliver only the highest quality work to our clients. With that said, though, everything here is just more laid back. Feel more comfortable wearing jeans to the office? Go for it. Have some work you’d rather finish off from home in the morning? Just let your teams know. How about having the ability to work from home every Friday, regardless of the title on your business card? Amazing! What you really cannot beat, though, is the free organic fruit available all day, every day in the kitchen. That’s my real motivation for getting up in the morning.

Collaboration is the Name of the Game

Here at B&O, we have an open-style seating plan. No one has an office, meaning our general manager and senior vice presidents sit right next to interns. No one is ever out of reach and it’s awesome. Further, we share our building (and the aforementioned open-style office) with Hill + Knowlton, Landor, Ogilvy and Nielsen. Think about that – PR, advertising, marketing and media measurement all under one roof. Need help on a project that requires some of that expertise? Just take a walk down the hall and your problem is solved. With these resources at your fingertips, our clients can be assured that their integrated campaigns will never be less than everything they have the potential to be.

The Bay Area Is the True Home of Tech

East Coasters are pretty famous for their…interesting personalities. I mean, the whole world runs on East Coast time, so I guess that explains why accidentally bumping into a guy at a bar anywhere in the Northeast is immediately interpreted as, “I want to fight you.” Look at me right now! There’s a whole jumble of other states below the Northeast (I think?) and I’m not even considering them when I say “East Coast.” Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you open your smartphone, every app on there was likely rolled out in the Bay Area first. Throw a dart at a list of enterprise tech companies currently dominating the landscape and chances are they call this place home. Zuckerberg, Benioff and Ellison? They all live here. It creates an energy in the air that you can truly feel and makes my and my work family’s job at B&O that much more enjoyable.

So there’s my story. And I’m sticking to it. If you don’t like it, then I have just one question for you – wanna fight about it?