Most people will have noticed by now (through my surname change if nothing else) that I recently got married.
But it wasn’t your generic 18-24 month build-up following a big Facebook-publicised engagement.
No, that would be too ordinary for me.
I eloped abroad following a 3-month secret engagement.
I know, how very un-Irish of me.
But it was the best bloody thing I ever did! And it got me thinking afterwards (on my sun lounger, overlooking the Adriatic) about the similarities between the crazy, beautiful thing I’d just done and the wonderful world of PR I’d left behind…
1. Big Budgets Don’t Mean Better Results
A recent survey by the popular Irish wedding site Mrs2Be.ie found that the average spend by couples on their wedding in 2014 was €19,635.
On a party? Seriously?
Much like the world of PR campaigns, if you think outside the box, you can achieve just as much on a fraction of the standard budget. In fact I would argue that I achieved more with less because I had the two elements that no amount of money can guarantee – romance and sunshine (especially in Ireland!)
My experience in PR has been predominantly in the Voluntary and Public Sectors so I’ve seen first hand how big results on smaller budgets are possible, mainly because it forces you to be more creative and efficient.
2. Planning Isn’t Proportionate To Results
They say that on average in Ireland, people will be engaged 13-18 months before getting married. And couples will cohabit for up to 5 years before tying the knot…
I was married exactly 400 days to the day after our first date. I only had 3 months to plan it, one of which had been spent researching another country, our original choice, which then didn’t work out.
Granted I didn’t have to organise a truckload of guests but that’s why it’s important for weddings, as it is in PR planning, to work out what you (or the client) ultimately wants out of the exercise.
As with the budget issue above, I’ve seen some fantastic PR campaigns pulled out of the bag in a matter of days, whether it’s down to last-minute changes, other agencies letting people down, or an unforeseen, unavoidable crisis. Outcomes, not outputs, are what matter.
3. Authenticity Is More Important Than Popularity
This is massively important in both the PR and wedding world.
We knew that not everyone would be happy about our decision to elope. Thankfully our immediate families and true friends were genuinely overjoyed for us. And we’re chuffed we stuck to our guns because we ended up with the perfect day, our way, to remember forever.
Brands have to be mindful of the public opinion minefield as well. Take Ben & Jerry’s for example, whose campaigning work on the Same Sex Marriage agenda was vilified in some corners as inapprorpiate for an ice-cream brand.
But sticking to what you believe in, what is true and right for you, will always be better in the end than trying to please everyone and be liked.
4. Content is King on Social Media
Like a lot of companies, our personal pages can also suffer from the Facebook algorithms. Because I don’t post that often, and I normally post about “boring” every day stuff to share with wider family who don’t live nearby, my posts don’t garner a huge amount of engagement from my 100+ friends.
Until you coordinate a surprise elopement announcement that is.
We almost broke the Croatian internet system, Kim Kardashian-style.
That little experiment proved what we already knew; that in the end, it isn’t the exact time you post or what size of image you attach. The key is the content – when people see something emotive they can engage with, something genuinely newsworthy they can share or something that makes them feel good – that is when social media messages work.
(Don’t worry, we phoned our Mammies first!)
5. Nobody Will Care As Much As You Do
The reality of your wedding is that no-one else will care about the nitty gritty detail the way you do. Unless they’re trying to control it. Most people only care what it looks like in the end. What it felt like to be there. By all means tick off your to-do list from favours to flowers. But I think I did everyone a favour keeping the boring admin work to myself, no matter how excited I was about it.
Likewise, no-one outside the PR team will appreciate the work that went into a campaign, the sweat and tears, the spreadsheets, the sore knees huddled on the floor packing gift boxes or the endless, awkward phone calls to journalists.
Clients will only care about the results and how it made them feel. How it made their audiences feel and what it prompted those audiences to do.
And as I finish a blog post that admits I thought about my job even while I was away, I realise that that is why I’m cut out for it.
Because I care.
And because I get sh*t done.
I get results.
Mrs Ross – case in point.