Happy Thanksgiving week! Although Thanksgiving isn’t necessarily my favorite holiday, I love that it kicks off such a joyful time of year. In order to get us in the holiday spirit this week, I wanted to focus on something that combines both public relations and entrepreneurship with Thanksgiving. As it ends up, this is not the easiest connection to make. So as we PR professionals tend to do in such moments, we get creative and look for ways to spin the topic and make a connection – even if it’s a reach.
Here’s what I came up with.
When I visualize our Thanksgiving table, I see a smorgasbord of culinary creations. There’s a balance of sweet, salty, decadent, simple, and complex flavors. Though each individual dish is surely not everyone’s favorite, it has made its way to the table – year after year – because it contributes something that our family values. There have been plenty of dishes that have been weaned off our menu after determining it didn’t quite fit our tastes or desires anymore. The connection?
All of this can be said of my public relations business. When I picture a Thanksgiving table, I can see the various components of my business represented by the traditional Thanksgiving menu. Though my table might look a little different than your own, join me as I explain just how turkey and entrepreneurship really aren’t all that different. I promise this will make more sense if you just keep reading.
This is quite literally the meat of what I do and the staple centerpiece on the table that is my business. Sure, some parts can be a little dry, but there’s a ton of good meat to have. It’s also arguably the longest-lasting menu item that continues to appear – sometimes in repurposed forms – again and again.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This one can certainly strike a love or hate relationship with people. Much like one business owner may love a piece of their job that another business owner looks to outsource at their first chance. For me, this is client invoicing. Similar to my relationship with sweet potato casserole, invoicing is sweet and rich in the way it fills my bank account, but after a few “bites” I’m done and completely over it…at least until next month.
I’m a lifelong stuffing lover – and passionately creative writer. That’s why these two go hand in hand for me. At Thanksgiving, I could be okay giving up (mostly) everything else on the table for some perfectly done stuffing – and by that I mean tons of onion and butter with a crispy top layer. I won’t, and really can’t give up every other aspect of my business to only focus on creative messaging, but when I get to tackle projects where this is the focus, I am ‘stuffed’ with joy.
Jiggly Cranberry Sauce
We all know this Thanksgiving staple, the jiggly cranberry sauce that’s shaped just like the can from which you must pry it. For me, this is new technology. It’s fun to see what it can do, and it’s definitely different than anything else on the table, but I can feel a little awkward maneuvering it around, and once I’ve tried it I’m OK to put it off to the side (until I really need it to add some flavor to that dry turkey).
Guess what? I don’t love event planning. Nor do I love mashed potatoes. I’m pretty confident I could have a perfectly enjoyable Thanksgiving (and career) without mashed potatoes (event planning). Yet, year after year I keep coming back to both. Just like those finicky homemade mashed potatoes that seem to take everyone I know the most time and attention in the kitchen, event planning is so hands-on and rarely efficient. In other words, the exact opposite of what I enjoy. So why do I do it? The gravy.
The People I Meet Through My Work
The gravy, or the bonus to the effort I put into my work is the wonderful and helpful people I get to meet along the way. I’ve found a ton of value, far beyond what I could charge or manufacture, by the people I meet and who often help grow my network (and profit margin). How does this tie back to gravy? In my opinion, everything on the Thanksgiving table is made better with a little gravy. Dry becomes decadent, dull flavors come to life, and it just seems to bring everything together in harmony – as do the right people!
Meetings and Conference Calls
Just like the health nut in me would like to ditch those dinner rolls altogether, the introvert in me would be fine with having 95% of my business communications take place by email. Hey, I’m still allowing for that 5%; that’s a big concession for me! Just like dinner rolls are pretty dry and something we eat mostly out of obligation, this perfectly describes how I view meetings and conference calls. I will admit there are those fruitful and enjoyable meetings that allow for collaboration, just like I will admit there are those warm, homemade dinner rolls smothered in butter that are well worth the calories. But 95% of the time, that’s simply not the case.
To those of you reading this, yes I did just compare my clients to brussel sprouts. No offense should be taken as I love brussel sprouts! Though it’s a common holiday side dish, I most often make this my main course – just like my clients are the main course of my business. We’re a good fit for one another. They’re enjoyable and a bit indulgent (if you make them the way we do), but they can also be a bit of an investment – both in your budget and in the time it takes to “prepare” them just right. The end result is always worth it, however!
I can eat salad any other day of the year, why does this need to be a part of Thanksgiving? This is often how I view handling business operations on days when I have few other client obligations. I just want to relax and enjoy – almost like a holiday. Yet I know I really should take care of at least a few of those items on my task list that I know will help create a healthier business for me long term. Similarly, starting off with Thanksgiving with a side salad can help you indulge a little less in other things. Not always fun, but always smart.
Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple, just as social media has become a staple in PR and strategic communications. I like it, but it’s not the first thing I go for on the dessert table. I know some people who are absolutely giddy over social media. I will totally tackle it like a pro when presented with the opportunity (as I will a slice of pumpkin pie), but if I’m being honest, I would much rather spend my time fully immersed in…
Just so we’re clear, I don’t mean writing about ghosts. No, I mean working on writing projects that are ultimately credited to one of my clients. Op-eds, email newsletter content, direct sales scripts, speeches, even cover letters, and LinkedIn profile summaries. If there is a type of writing someone can outsource, chances are I’ve worked on a similar project. This is my pecan pie, my sweet indulgence. And just like one generous slice of pecan pie is my limit for a while, I also couldn’t “indulge” in ghostwriting all day every day. It can be a bit tiring, as can coming off a pecan pie sugar coma.
And finally, we can’t forget those delicious Thanksgiving mocktails/cocktails that make their way into the hands of most guests upon arrival. When I think of where these fit in on the Thanksgiving table that is my business, I see this as business networking. First, networking events are also a bit easier with something to sip (maybe so you don’t feel so awkward standing around and making small talk). I give credit to people who can go to business networking events all day, but my limit is about one event per month – seriously! I fully enjoy networking (a sugary and delicious mocktail) when I’m in the moment, but then I’m ready for some solitude (and water) for a while!
More than just making you crave your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner more than you already were, I hope this inspired you to think about the components of your own business and how each piece works together to create something sustaining, built upon values and tradition.
Did I miss mentioning your favorite Thanksgiving food on this list? Tell me what it is and offer what piece of your own career is best represented by this food!