I miss working in Public Relations. My first real job title in Lagos was PR executive, and one of my many job titles now is “Wife” (I kid you not, being married IS a job). I learnt a lot back then, and it recently occurred to me that a lot of those lessons are still valid for my new main gig. Lessons like…
- Be more of a Yoruba girl and less of Waffi girl. My GM legit said those exact words to me, I am not even joking. We had this difficult client stressing out the entire agency and I just did not have the cool that was required. Sure, I smiled when they were around, but inside I was tired of their shenanigans and unknown to me, it showed in my emails. The emails were not rude…they just lacked gentleness. So when my GM called me to her office and sweetly said those words, I thought of those Yoruba students of mine during NYSC and all their plentiful fake greetings that didn’t come from their minds. El. Oh. El. I personally didn’t think Yoruba girls were any calmer, but if their brand of faux respect was what my career needed, I wanted it.
Marriage lesson: Let not thy blood be too hot. It has taken me 4 years to realise that my husband may not have the GM’s words, but that’s exactly what he would say if he did. From the way I open doors to the way I respond to unfair criticism, the gra-gra just shows. Yoruba girls, you people should come and help me to be gentle and respectful please.
- Stay on top of your game: Haaa, this one was the agency mantra! I remember the look on MD’s face whenever we lost a pitch to one agency in particular. “We lost to X again! You guys are not on top of your game!” What made them tick? What gave them the edge? What made our own loyal clients loyal? What did we have that other agencies didn’t? We had to identify and leverage it.
Marriage lesson: Never drop the ball. Don’t stop doing the things that made love bloom. Husbands who are too harsh and unyielding don’t fare any better than wives who are aggressive and uncaring. Whatever your partner’s thing is, be good, and if possible, fantastic at bringing it. It can be hard, especially if it’s not naturally your thing, but that’s how you stay on top of your game, baby!
- Always be upgrading: Actually, staying on top of your game isn’t only about leveraging what works; it’s also about coming up with better ways to do it. Your competition may not have a team of smarter or more experienced people, but if they keep coming up with new things to wow their clients while your team relies on “how we’ve always done it” the clients will keep choosing them over you. If you don’t have it, go and get it. Once, my agency had to enter into an agreement with a guru from another agency. He would be part of our team whenever we had pitches or presentations (as long as there was no conflict of interest with his own agency) and help us win. Seriously, our agency gave him his business cards and everything, and us rookies watched him do his thing and learnt from him. It worked!
Marriage lesson: If you no sabi, ask question. See, people are more willing to help than you think. “Abeg, how do you people keep quiet when oga is raving to avoid talking back?” People have skills you don’t have o! There are ways to balance work and life better, new tantalizing recipes to try out, different angles to that tried and tested technique you’ve been using since your honeymoon. How will you know if you just want to keep doing what you’ve been doing? There is always room for an upgrade.
- Bad is easier to see than good. When I first started out in PR, I found it frustrating that we didn’t have to call any journalists whenever our clients messed up; they would find the news by themselves and flog it to death. When our client was doing something good? Aaaah, they would not hear that one on their own. We had to do press releases and even then they wouldn’t catch the fire o. We still had to do follow-up stories aka “abeg help me use”, stuff brown envelopes and organise media parleys. How can this life be balanced, eh?
Marriage lesson: If I’m looking for the bad in my spouse I don’t have to look far. It’s so incredibly glaring. My husband can probably write an article on all the ways I aggravate and disappoint him, and I could write a thesis on his exasperating flaws. It requires special effort to pick out and highlight the good in others, but that’s how we make marriage – and the world – a better place.