Ben here, once again. Hopefully from reading my last post I was able to illustrate to you what it is like to work in a boutique luxury brand marketing and public relations company. Not only am I learning myself but also giving you a pair of eyes into what goes on here at DRS and Associates. Through my words, I can transform a world that is possibly very alien into a face of familiarity. Coming from my own personal pastimes of football practice, weightlifting, and even the quirky nuances of beatnik literature, this business is as foreign and bewildering for me as it is to probably everyone. Let me give you an example. I tried to learn Spanish in high school. Didn’t do so well. Also tried to understand Anthony Burgess’s dystopian language in his novel “Clockwork Orange”. I finished the last page, novel in my left hand and dictionary in my right. Eventually, I got the feeling of Burgess’s odd and terse language. Though between all the jargon that I have translated throughout the years, the language of the marketing and public relations, “communications” industry was as wild and strange as any.
Whether referring to the National Football League’s players’ union or to a small privately owned law firm a respective “lingo” is used to communicate within the respective professions.
I remember being given the task to organize a “cost analysis booklet”. What was this person saying to me? What were these strange phrases being directed at me? I felt as if I had done something wrong and was being reprimanded or scolded – but in words I could not comprehend. I’m sure we’ve all faced a similar situation after being rambled at in a foreign language. You might have pulled into a gas station looking for directions and asked the closest man within ear-shot how to get to “Jack’s Burger’s” (A local favorite with rave reviews you were searching out). The stern looking man first stares at you in bewilderment, furrows his brow then throws at you a jumble of words that come at you at a hundred miles per hour – in a language that you can’t even decipher! Obviously he did not know what I was asking and I couldn’t understand what he was blurting back. Get the picture of my day at DRS?
And my tale continues, as a few days later I was told that I was going to work on “leads” for clients… and found out that we use a database by the name of “ACT”. Huh? These words? I think I need to do something – but what? That same feeling arose – just like the “asking for directions” analogy. Well of course with a little instruction and direction I quickly understood that “ACT” turned out to be a a lead generation tool that DRS and Associates customized for editorial contacts and utilized it to track communications, activities, and historical data with members of the media that we work with.
It didn’t all happen on the first day. I didn’t learn the language of “DRSian” for a few weeks and am still yet to perfect certain tenses and pronunciations of words.
It kept coming though, like a foreign student you begin to catch on. Unless it is a full-immersion program, most students go to class, learn topics in their native tongue, and then move on to the outside world where Italian, Spanish, French, or any other foreign language is used. I go to class on campus, learn topics that are familiar to me then go to DRS and Associates and have to face this new jargon of “media pitches” and “hits” (sounds very violent doesn’t it?) and “cost analysis sheets” and so much more.
Then there was that ah-ha moment. Things started to click. Words began to have a sense of belonging! And… and, cost analysis sheets didn’t seem like a jumble of confusing and intricate formulas on an Excel spreadsheet with magazine names, client coverage, values, impressions…. all to produce an accurate computation to report our results – both in numbers and in visual graphs. These words have become my acquaintance. The terms and phrases roll off my tongue like I am speaking to a friend.
Spending enough time within a specific habitat, business setting or even in the sports world, will eventually and naturally cause a subconscious assimilation to the natural lay of the land.
After some time I found myself finally coming closer to speaking the language of “DRSian”. I remember the day that it all came together perfectly and naturally. I turned around, looked our public relations account coordinator in the eyes, and before asking a preliminary question I told her that I had just finished going over the media contacts for the upcoming trade show while researching the industry’s hit list…compared them to our ACT database…. and after that, carefully analyzing the input equation for our cost analysis worksheet. (Try asking me a month earlier and I would have chuckled at the notion of using mathematical equations in public relations).
And it really just happened like that. It took me back to the day that I was finally able to throw a football – I had been practicing for a while. The ball never had a tight spiral yet I kept at it. I was probably eight or nine years old when on this particular day I picked up the ball and tossed it across the yard. It flew through the sky with a beautiful serenity. The laces wrapped around the air and it fit perfectly into the outstretched arms of my father. As I came back from that vision to real life I realized that I was still looking in the face of our public relations account coordinator. A wave of clarity (and satisfaction) splashed over me. I had just scored a touchdown.