According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. Well, this April we beat the odds – the West P.R. band of misfits celebrated our five year anniversary.
It may come as no surprise to some, but April Fools Day is West Public Relations’ anniversary. To be honest, it feels so apropos since starting a business was completely unintentional – the whole thing just kind of fell in my lap. Yet now that it’s my reality, it feels like the most natural thing in the world. Who would have thought? I guess the joke is on me.
I’m not afraid to admit we’ve had missteps along the way but I think we’ve also done many things right. It’s rare that you have a platform to boast about your accomplishments without sounding self-important or like a “publicist”, so I’m going to use this blog to do just that. It’s West P.R.’s birthday month so we’re entitled to it.
The Top 5 Things West P.R. Does Right:
- Laugh. That’s right, laugh. This is probably the single most important thing we do here. Every. Single. Day. It’s loud and it’s often inappropriate. Why is this something to brag about? People take themselves way too seriously in the world of P.R. Egos can come in celebrity size. P.R. folks also face a lot of rejection from press and live in a land of absurdity (what do you mean Dateline isn’t interested in featuring a cat toilet training system?). “It’s not a laughing matter” is never said in this office because if you can’t laugh about it, you will most likely cry and we’re not a bunch of sissies.
- Hire people you think you might hate – they will always surprise you. Okay, it’s a bit of an exaggeration but I have been surprised by some of the personalities I’ve brought on board that I didn’t think would jive well with me. Take, for example, #2 (i.e. Krista Lamp, and yes, that is her official title). When I met Krista for the first time I thought, “I’m not sure I can do this”. Her energy outmatches mine, we are both headstrong and aggressive, and, well, I think she might be smarter than me. There was absolutely no way our personalities would mesh. Then I thought, what the hell, she probably feels the same about me. Here we are a few years later and this company would not be where it’s at without her and all those things I had doubts about are what I appreciate and admire about her most. As for #3 and #4, I thought I’d hate Holly because I’d feel short and fat, and Allie because she has better fashion sense, but my self esteem prevailed because I love them too. I jest, I jest!
- Trust. It was a tough realization, but I clearly can not do it all. I once believed that I could, which resulted in long bouts of insomnia, grinding my molars down to the gumline, and “Invisible Children” style schizophrenic episodes. Once I learned to let go and trust that my team was more than capable, the business really began to thrive. Trust is also a mutual feeling here. I trust them to do what’s right for the business, and in return, they trust that I will treat them well for their efforts. We pay in chocolate and chili dogs.
- “I” is not acceptable. West P.R. is not really my business despite bearing my name. I prefer to think of it as “our” business, meaning it also belongs to Krista, Holly and Allie (minus the ridiculous stress and nightmares that come with taxes, accounting, legal liabilities, and so on.). We are a united front. Every opinion matters and they know they can tell me if they think something stinks – it’s usually my dog, Lola. And when speaking to clients and presenting our successes, ideas, etc., I do my best to never use “I”. These moments of brilliance are ours collectively. The same rings true in times of adversity because that’s how a true team behaves.
- Be true to yourself. Be weird. From the pressures of catering to potential new clients to presenting a certain image in hopes of impressing, it’s easy to lose sight of who you are when you’re trying to make a buck. I’m all for being a chameleon, just as long as our values are still in tact; meaning we won’t take on a client that comes from an industry we know nothing about or have no interest in. And even more crucial, all interns and hires are told to lose “the act” that comes with working in a traditional office setting. Don’t let anyone here fool you. We’re a bunch of freaks and we wave our flag proudly. But that’s what makes us fun to work with.
Surprised this was our boast list? I’m sure you expected us to brag about all the times we’ve landed clients on the Today Show or in Elle (we have), but our work speaks for itself – we are still in business…