What ice cream can teach us about PR


As a kid, my father taught me one of the most important chants of my life. It went something like, “I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream!” After which, there was a full bowl of vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup swirled around in it for dessert. Based on my first real job at Dairy Queen more than 20 years ago, I can attest that almost every person on the planet screams for ice cream on a hot summer day.

What’s cool about ice cream, is that it can teach us a lot of lessons about people’s behaviors. It turns out, ice cream also can teach us quite a few lessons about public relations.

Here are four of my favorite PR lessons learned from ice cream.

It comes in a variety of flavors

Baskin Robbins offers more than 32 flavors for a reason. Because people like what they like. As it turns out, their preference just so happens to be very different from what the next person happens to like.

In order to appease the masses, ice cream comes in a variety of many different flavors.

The same can be said about PR and its tactics—the variety of approaches for landing media attention are endless!

This moment, you may be pitching holiday gift guides to long leads. Then next, attempting to get an expert placed on podcasts. All the while, trying to draft copy for a presentation, ghostwrite a speech, or draft answers for an hour-long Facebook Live chat.

Whatever your PR tactic of the moment may be, there’s a niche to fit it. Just like for every craving someone is having, there’s an ice cream flavor to satisfy it.

It can get messy

Sometimes, even when you have the best intentions of eating it, ice cream can make a bit of a mess. You just have to work through it.

PR often poses the same problem.

Even with the best laid PR strategy, sometimes things get sticky. If so, you need to know how to clean them up.

Did you respond to a Yelp review a little too defensively thinking you were educating a customer? Did you place a digital ad that you thought was funny but instead offended a large group of people? Did your business partner take you a little too literally and exercise too much free with her free speech? Did your brand get hit with the wrong end of the social media gone viral stick?

Yeah, those are just a few of the ways things get messy and PR needs to step in and help.

It’s cool

There’s nothing better than ice cream on a summer day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, you’re hot, and it’s cool. Ice cream just makes everything better.

You know what else is cool? Seeing your brand’s or business’ name in the press.

We refer to ice cream as a sweet treat for a reason—it’s something to enjoy as a reward. Just like reading or hearing about your brand after you’ve planned, pitched, and then re-pitched your story is rewarding.

Guess what else is really cool? Seeing your bottom line grow exponentially after receiving media coverage as a result of your PR efforts.

It’s not for everyone

Gasp! I know, what kind of horrible person doesn’t love ice cream? Well, the poor souls who are lactose intolerant, for one. There also are those who prefer frozen yogurt. Or gelato may be more their taste.

Oddly enough, some people don’t have a taste for PR either.

What you may not know is that PR consistently ranks near the top on all the list of most stressful professions. Why? Because PR professionals must deal with extremely tight deadlines, clients, and the public, reporters, and whomever else happens to be standing around asking questions.

To be successful with the media, you need to be a detail-oriented multitasker who can thrive in a little bit of chaos. Not everyone shines under that type of pressure.

PR also requires being able to consistently be willing to put yourself out there in front of others and speak on the spot about your business or brand. Only to risk being told their opinion is wrong.

For these reasons, and more, PR requires persistence and a bit of a thicker skin. It’s not for the faint of heart or something that can be DIY-ed by an in-over-their-head entrepreneur. It turns out, PR professionals and agencies exist for a reason.

Not sure where to start with your PR efforts? We have amazing library of resources on our Hearsay blog and tools in our shop to help.

What other PR lessons do you think ice cream can teach you?

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