Last fall, my parents dropped off a bunch of my old childhood memorabilia. For some reason, I saved every single report card (even those couple of high school geometry Ds — oops). I also saved awards and sports stuff, so it was fun to look through (and condense a lot of it).
What was also fun? Finding my PRESCHOOL report card, from when I was four years old. First, I had no idea they had “report cards” for preschoolers. It looks like it was more of a parent/teacher conference though. But at any rate, this was the first time I remember seeing it. When I went through it, something dawned on me. I am the same person as I was when I was four. Remember the tweet, “What is the most on-brand story from your childhood?” Well, it’s this document. And then it got me thinking: my preschool self had a lot of the skills already developed (or really, in development) to be the PR pro I am today. Corny? Yes. But so true. Let’s take a closer look.
There are some things that aren’t essential for PR, such as “walking with a normal gait.” (Is that a thing? Apparently, it was in 1988.) There was also a line about using scissors well. Not important (although you could make a case to cut out placements you get). I don’t want to brag, but my teacher said I used them VERY well. Below is what stuck out to me the most (with screenshots to boot).
- Good storyteller (humor)
- Initiates conversations with both children and adults (very verbal)
- Happy and well-liked
- Good self-image — positive attitude and good leader qualities
- Shows increasing self-confidence and strong-willed
- Good insight
- Finishes work
- Has patience
While my patience has certainly waned over time, these items resonate with me now. They were true then and true now if I do say so myself! I think on every single performance review over my 12+ years working, “positive attitude” has been listed. I loved the teacher’s note to my parents, too: “Deanna is a very cooperative, good-natured child. She is well-liked by her fellow classmates and especially likes playing in the housekeeping corner. She takes pride in her work and has been a joy to work with this year.” Oh I remember that housekeeping corner! I guess this explains why I still like to host and cook and decorate my home, and am extremely organized.
So, how can the preschool you develop into the PR pro you?
- Working Well With Others: In PR, you often hear “I’m a people person” which is annoying but true. You have so many people to please and work with: supervisors, people you supervise, leadership, clients, media, vendors, people in other departments or offices…the list goes on. If in preschool you are already initiating conversations with both children and adults, and have verbal skills, you are well on your way to becoming successful in this field. You can’t just hunker down and work at your desk alone all day. There are calls, presentations, interviews, events, etc. where you need to be on your game (and often the initiator of the conversation).
- Good Insight: Over my career, I’ve learned that you have to think on your feet often, and trust your judgment. Becomes sometimes, you can’t wait for your boss or client to give you feedback or the OK, and you just have to take things and run with them. If you understand what your boss or client will say before they say it, or know how they work, then you can understand when you can just go, without getting permission. Having good insight is a clear skill when it comes to public relations.
- Storytelling: The heart of PR is in the story. When you are developing content or pitching the media, it all begins with the story and the “so what?” If you are already a storyteller in preschool (bonus points if you even have a sense of humor!) then you’re well on your way to being a great writer and content maven.
- Finishes Work: Raise your hand if you’re a forever procrastinator! I’ve gotten better over time, but I still wait until almost the last minute a lot. Especially when I have that project that’s been on my list that I just don’t want to do. Gotta eat that frog. While finishing work seems easy, if you do so early on, you develop a habit for life. A lot of my work constantly feels unfinished, but that’s the nature of my work. I am either waiting on a designer, client feedback, something internally to happen, etc. so I get through 75 percent of something and just have to wait. But I always finish it. This is an important skill to have — developing a project and seeing it all the way through, even if it was hard (that’s where good patience comes in!)
Seeing my skills on paper from 31 years ago was quite fun. It’s interesting to think back that long ago. You don’t see yourself then as you see yourself now, but it’s nice to think I’ve stayed true to myself all these years later. Now, where can I go to ask if we can get a housekeeping corner at work?