You lean on me, I’ll lean on you…or not?
This is a guest post by the lovely and talented, Julia Stemerman.
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” We all know this quote and I found it to be especially true as I decided to move halfway across the world for two years. In October 2008, when I left for Barcelona, I didn’t know anyone. But not knowing anyone added to the adventure that was ahead of me and I knew I would find my way. And I certainly did, meeting people from all over the world, becoming great friends with Spaniards, Brits and even a crazy Australian. Those friends helped get me through that adjustment and I couldn’t be more grateful for my experiences. Now that I’m back in the professional world, working with all types of partners and media, I ask myself, who are my “friends” in the professional sense?
Let’s first explore the idea of a team. With so many startups around, including Inner Circle Labs, the idea of team is more important than ever. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or any mega successful business person who was once part of startups had to rely on a team to get things done. We all know there is no “I” in team. And, as part of a team, you spend so many hours with the same people that it’s inevitable you become “friends” on some level. Maybe you don’t go out together on the weekends or share your darkest secrets, but spending forty plus hours a week side-by-side with the same group of people inevitably leads to some sort of relationship. Through successes and failures, you have each other’s backs. You grow together, you learn together, you laugh together, you have tough times together. Often times, if you weren’t thrown together on a particular team, you may not have thought to even talk to that particular person, let alone develop a relationship.
Now, what about relationships with media? I think I speak for most people in the public relations business when I say that these relationships, even friendships in some cases, are hit and miss. But, I will say, us PR people don’t always have ulterior motives. We are just people doing our jobs, as are media. When we tell someone we like an article they wrote, we’re not necessarily kissing up. When we say we enjoy the content on an editor’s site, we’re not always brown nosing. When we schedule a coffee date with a reporter, we’re not going to secretly push a partner’s agenda. But, I’m afraid the perception is that PR people are usually doing these things for just those less than appealing reasons.
Truth be told, PR can offer a lot of value to media and media can offer a lot of value to us. So, why does it sometimes feel like media have the upper hand? They suggest we develop relationships and at times, when we try to develop those relationships, we are either ignored or given the brush off. While this type of situation occurs across many industries and is simply the nature of the beast, I’ve found that the “friendships” I’ve built with media ultimately lead to less wasted time, more honesty and more trust. A lean on me and I’ll lean on you relationship should be looked at as mutually beneficial. We want to be as successful – just as media do – so we need to quit the love/hate relationship and embrace each other more.
At Inner Circl Labs, we only work with partners we are passionate about. And that’s great. Would I be “friends” with everyone who I work with? No, but am I amicable, professional and supportive of everyone I work with? Absolutely. At the end of the day, we are an extended team and via that extended team we develop relationships.
I’m a quality over quantity type of person. I don’t need to have a million friends to make my world go round. But, it’s nice to see that some of those relationships have developed professionally because, after all, all work and no play isn’t very fun!