Why I got fired from career day

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Have you ever been asked to participate in career day? I did it once, and then my kids stopped nominating me. You’re going up against firefighters, doctors, construction workers. Cool people with cool jobs where everyone already understands what they do.

And then there’s you. Trying to explain to a group of 5th graders the difference between earned media and paid media and how those boundaries have started to blur in the last few years. At this point the eyes of your audience have started to blur. Their vacant expressions fill you with self-doubt.

Of course the work we do is meaningful. There’s no question about it. It’s just that we don’t save people’s lives, we don’t wear a cool fireman’s helmet, and we don’t always know how to articulate the value we add to our bosses, clients, and communities. At the end of the day it may not be a big deal if your son’s classmates (or your neighbor or your mother) don’t understand your job. It becomes a big deal when the chief executive doesn’t understand what you add to the company.

Make sure you value your work, and have the mindset of a Media Relations Master. Many in the field have spent years belittled by both the journalists they try to work with and the executives they work under. It can be difficult to overcome that. And I don’t expect an encouraging email from Michael Smart to change that. But digging into the analytics of your company can highlight all the ways your work makes the company better.

Identify someone at your company who is an expert at collecting data. This may include web traffic, customer surveys, social media engagement and online reviews. These and other quantitative and qualitative measurements can show how your media outreach efforts are benefiting the company.

If you don’t have a great analytics guy, guess what? Get your own login to the Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics account. You may feel like you don’t need more on your plate, but without some great numbers to show your value, no one really cares what else is on your plate.

Use this data and your excellent communications skills to tell a story of company profit and growth with your PR efforts as the protagonist. Here are two quick but often overlooked steps that can yield some simple proof points:

  1. Correlate your media or content pushes with some web traffic spikes. Sure, without deeper analysis (UTMs anyone?) you can’t prove for sure the boost in visits came from you vs. other marketing outreach, but it’s better than nothing.
  2. Check out Google Trends to see if there was any elevation in searches for your company, product or issue during your successful outreach. You can even compare with competitors’ terms to highlight your contribution.

Family, friends, and 3rd graders may never understand your job. But those you work for should. And it’s within your power to provide them the numbers and insights to show that – even though you may drive a Honda and not a fire-truck – your contribution is making a big difference.

This article was originally published on May 09, 2019.