It was muggy out, but for July in Texas, it was cold. What better than to take a walk with an old friend? That’s precisely what I did the other night with my old college roommate. During our slow pace around the park we encountered the older, male version of Snow White. He might not have looked like the character, but he was feeding several squirrels and birds from his hands. He gave my friend and me instructions, and after waiting patiently for them to trust us, they ate out of our hands, too!
I have only seen untamed animals trusting people in movies and videos on social media with the all-too-familiar title “You’ve got to see this!” I never imagined that I would see it in person, nor be the person they’re trusting. Call me weird, but I walked away from that experience and immediately related it to public relations.
I recently graduated college and am entering the “workplace” as a “real adult.” In school, I heard about the outrageous public relations stunts or wrote case studies about the catastrophic fails. We watched all the wildly popular advertisements in class to pick apart the details. Basically, I have only seen marketing from a distance, aside from my internships, but am amazed to experience them for myself. I may not have created the most recent viral ad, and thankfully have not caused a crisis of any sort, but I’m getting to experience the things I’ve only heard of for myself. It is amazing and frightening at the same time.
In another way, my bird-and-squirrel-feeding experience also relates because of the patience it required. Robertson Communications from California has a blog post that can honestly apply to all areas of life, but they specifically addressed patience. The author realized that we may live in a fast-paced world where news gets old fast, but patience is still required in our profession.
It takes time to build trust and relationships. It especially takes time to repair trust when companies break it. HKA Marketing Communications even titled one of their posts “Patience is a PR virtue.” It relays the story of a small seed planted for an organization that, after being feed for a year, finally blossomed into a glorious earned media opportunity.
The birds may have eaten all that food quickly, but it took a while for me to gain their trust. Our media-centered environment may consume information quickly, but relationships and trust still take time to grow. Public relations is a practice of fast-paced intricacies, but patience for the long run.