As a young professional in my early 20’s, I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that Harry Potter has been a big (read: monumental) part of my life. Harry Potter and the world J.K Rowling created brought me closer to my best friends, taught me life lessons, comforted me during times of sadness, and, to this day, leads me on some great adventures.
During my annual re-read it hit me that the stories and characters are not only completely relatable, but also there are numerous lessons that can help a novice, or even experienced, communications professional. Here are the five biggest ones that resonate with me:
- Confront a Crisis
If there was one thing Harry did throughout the books, it was to confront a crisis head-on. Rather than complaining or avoiding the problem at hand, Harry accepted the challenge and did what was necessary to solve the issue at hand. The lesson here is that PR professionals should embrace the challenges that come their way as an opportunity, rather than side-stepping the problem.
- Always plan, but be ready to think on your feet.
In the last Harry Potter book, Harry and his two classmates, Ron and Hermione, created a meticulous plan in the beginning, but it fell apart due to unexpected complications. Still, their experience always provided the context necessary to get over each unexpected roadblock. Same goes for our industry. If a pitch doesn’t go right or the event staff loses your audio/video information for a press conference, your quick-thinking skills can help get you out of it. Instead of freaking out and shutting down, do what Harry did and figure a way out using what you know to resolve the situation.
- Allies are good
Harry’s support system was pivotal in helping him get through the trials and tribulations throughout the series. He leaned on them when he needed them most, but more importantly, his support system knew they could depend on him. Always know that building relationships and having allies, especially in the media, is good. If you put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and ask what would be most beneficial, you’ll find they are more likely to help you in return.
- Play to your strengths
Harry, Ron and Hermione each have their own strengths and relied on the others to complete each task at hand. If we take this example to heart, it means looking at where you’re strongest and knowing when to defer to others. Are you good at press releases or are you a better presenter? Knowing what you’re good at will make you indispensable to those you work with and show you’re a great team player. At LRG, I’m lucky to work with several different skill sets to help create winning campaigns for clients.
- Have an open mind
Throughout the third book, Harry, Ron and Hermione discover that the person they suspect of being a murderer actually isn’t, and miss the opportunity to go after the real perpetrator. Does this sound familiar? Sometimes we get so stuck in what we think is right that we don’t explore other possibilities. Having an open mind to new ideas, paths, campaign platforms, etc. will get you far in the PR world. Having your own convictions is important, but there are times when you just need to be flexible and open up to an idea you’ve never heard of before.
Needless to say, Harry Potter will always be a mainstay influence in my life. The series helped me figure out the ropes of being a young PR pro and will only continue to guide me through my career. As I grow, my interpretation and understanding of the stories, lessons and characters continues to mature and morph, but I believe that’s what a good book or book series can do for a person.