PR lessons I’ve learned from driving in downtown Cleveland traffic

By Mira Kuhar

 

keep-calm-while-driving-in-cleveland-trafficAs soon as the clock strikes 5 p.m in downtown Cleveland, professionals of all ages flock to their cars to begin their evening commute. With everyone’s mind set on dinner and for some, their comfy beds, frustration begins to set in when traffic comes to a halt and you’ve moved two blocks in 20 minutes. My internship with PR Newswire has been my first experience with rush hour traffic. I now know that road rage does indeed run in my family (mostly thanks to my father). The first few days I experienced this nightmare that is traffic in downtown Cleveland traffic, I was frustrated, mad, annoyed and all other related emotions. I felt trapped. This is when I realized that there will be some instances in my professional life that are going to feel just like a traffic jam.

There are some situations you just can’t control. Whether you’re in charge of a wide variety of accounts, managing a project team or monitoring a company’s social media platforms, as a PR professional, you’re ultimately in control of a lot of the day-to-day things that happen with a client. However, some of the things that happen with your client are not within your scope of control. Take this week’s TweetDeck hacking for example. Someone hacked into the popular Twitter feed monitoring system and made a montage of odd messages pop up as well as strange retweets occur for many different Twitter accounts. Many high-profile accounts were effected such as @NYTimes and @CBCNews. In this case, the managers of these Twitter feeds didn’t plan for this hack to happen. They had sit back and just wait for it be fixed since it was out of their control. When traffic is backed up for miles with no easy exit, sometimes all you can do is sit and wait it out just like some of TweetDeck’s users had to.

Yelling (and honking) does not make it better. Unpleasant people are just inevitable. When dealing with clients, there will be times when you have to help those who are rude and nasty to you. In these instances, you just have to put on your happy face and calm voice and deal with it. It’s second nature to want to yell and be nasty right back, but when you’re working in customer service, that’s a one way ticket to getting yourself fired. The same goes for rush hour. If yelling could move cars, we would not have solved the traffic congestion problem by now. Because it’s just inevitable, as are nasty people, you just have to put on your happy face and deal with it.

The “easy way out” may turn into a nightmare. Finding the most efficient way to do something, even if it may not be the right way, is human nature. We all want to be successful in as little as time as possible because time is, in fact, money. Taking small short cuts may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but over time they can build up and eventually end up producing a negative result. Editing, curating content and doing design work are just a few examples of things you cannot take short cuts on. Missing a mistake in a press release or posting the wrong link to an article in a Tweet can cost a company their reputation. The end result of these mistakes are not worth taking the short cut; it’s better to do it the right way, even if it may take longer. The same goes for obeying traffic laws. When traffic is backed up, you may be tempted to turn left on red or take a quick U turn. However, taking these short cuts and risking getting pulled over is not worth it. Your bank account (and driving record) will thank you if you just grin and bear the terrible back up of cars.

There are going to be many unfavorable situations you have to deal with throughout your PR career. Instead of looking at these things in a negative way, think of how you can turn it into a positive situation or a learning experience. Find places where you can apply these situations to your career and all other parts of your life and you’ll never see an experience as 100% negative ever again.

 

Connect with Mira on Twitter at @mirakuhar

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