This past weekend, here in Athens, we celebrated Dads Weekend. It is a weekend that is much anticipated by fathers, sons and daughters, alike. The streets filled quickly with subtle notions of embarrassment and students shaking their heads in a disapproving manner. This could only mean one thing – the dad jokes had arrived. When observing the creation of a dad joke, one thing becomes quite striking: similarities, do in fact, exist between dad jokes and the public relations field.
Short, Sweet and to the Point
Let’s be honest – if dad jokes are anything, they are short, sweet and to the point. Dads don’t mess around with complex anecdotes or nonsensical jargon. They prefer to make their point simply and quickly. For example, when a child asks, “Dad, did you get your hair cut?” the dad quickly responds with, “No. I got all of them cut.” There it is. Short and to the point. Dads see opportune times to add in a bit of whit and they use those few seconds to make it count.
Just as dads, when making jokes, are short and to the point, public relations professionals are as well. It is known that as technology and social media have further developed, our attention spans have done just the opposite. This calls for public relations professionals to use their craft as precisely and concisely as possible. The best way for a PR professional to relay their ideas are via their ability to wordsmith thoughts into quick messaging.
Wordplay is easy to remember
Another commonality that exists between classic dad jokes and the world of public relations is the implementation of word play. More often than not, dads use world play in a way that makes one remember the joke so much so that one must end up sharing it with friends. “Why did the coffee file a police report? It got mugged.”
Public Relations professionals use this same tactic. People remember words that play off of the holistic, interconnected idea. Whether it be the name of a campaign or a new slogan for a brand, people are most likely to remember catchy phrases and wording.
Know Your Audience
Dads don’t tell jokes to people that don’t have any interest in a good laugh. Although the jokes oftentimes fall flat, the intention to make people laugh stands true. If a father attends their child’s soccer game, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear, “I don’t play soccer because I enjoy the sport. I’m just doing it for kicks.” Whether or not the other parents will laugh at this dad’s joke is a 50/50 shot, but the intentionality behind the joke and who the dad is talking to is present.
This is also one of the most important things to remember about public relations as well. No matter what one is trying to accomplish, being able to remember who you are speaking to is of the utmost importance. One cannot develop a campaign or PR plan without first knowing the audience.
This weekend was one full of dads’ stories and jokes. Around campus, you could hear the mumblings of embarrassment and laughter coming from the students as their fathers tried to impress people with their silliness. Dad jokes aren’t exactly superb methods of communication, but when you look close, you can see the fundamentals of a solid joke and the methods of public relations professionals are more similar than you’d think.
Sadie Newman is a senior majoring in journalism strategic communication. She is also the 2018-19 Executive Vice President of Scripps PRSSA. Follow her adventures on Twitter @RealSlimmSadie