Lessons in PR and Parenting

by Sharp | November 6, 2015

Post by Jaret Posmentier

As a new dad, I constantly wonder if I’m making the right or wrong parenting decisions. Do I let her ‘cry it out’? Do I give her the pacifier? Will this cause permanent damage? With all of these doubts, I was relieved to realize that a career in PR has given me a leg up in parenting. Let me explain.

While at a Montessori class for infants and parents, our educator, Lisa Fay, started talking about Positive Phrasing, which sounded a lot more like PR than parenting. According to Montessori’s Ginni Sackett, Positive Phrasing is about “communicating in positive, respectful and productive ways… The art of saying what is rather than what isn’t.”

Jaret Posmentier

Here is what Positive Phrasing from parent to child sounds like:

Say: “Sally, sit down in your chair”
Instead of: “Sally, don’t stand on your chair”

Say: “Joey, be gentle with the baby”
Instead of: “Joey, don’t poke the baby’s eyeball”

At first, it takes conscious effort to keep all communications positive, but with practice it becomes more natural. My wife and I started a “swear jar” for every time we say “no” or “don’t” to our baby.

So how is this related to PR?

Positive Phrasing is akin to one of the major tenets of media relations: Stay on Message. Communicating our clients’ messages with positive statements is something we practice every day at Sharp, from media training to writing media materials. If a reporter asks a question with a negative phrase, it’s important to avoid repeating that language back in the answer. Instead, use a bridge phrase to steer back to a key message. For example:

Say: “Our products go through rigorous third party testing to ensure customer safety”
Instead of: “Those calling our products dangerous are mistaken”

Each media interaction is an opportunity to tell a positive story, even when questions take a negative turn. By practicing bridging and honing key messages, the interviewee can take back control and tell the brand’s intended story.

We’d love to hear from our readers. Have your job skills transferred into life skills outside of work? Tell us here. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep the swear jar empty, or rather, less than half-full.

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