PR According to a Parrothead

25 Jun PR According to a Parrothead

A couple of weeks ago I took the family on a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to soak up some sun, sample some food, and think about public relations.

Wait, what?

Anyone who has read some of my previous Sounding Board posts probably realizes I have a tendency to equate things we do in our “off-work” hours to our nine to five lives. And so, after a fun dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, I began to muse on the King of the Parrothead’s lyrics and how they apply to PR (as one does).

I understand that when most people think of Jimmy Buffet, they think of sandy beaches, boats, and general fun in the sun. All of that is very true. But, as in most things in life, if you look a little deeper, and take a closer look at the man’s lyrics, you’ll find parallels to other things.

With that in mind, let’s compare “Buffetisms” with their PR translations, and give ourselves some “mental floss!”

Buffetism: “Can’t you feel ‘em circlin’ honey? Can’t you feel ‘em swimmin’ around? You got fins to the left, fins to the right, and you’re the only bait in town.”


PR translation: Know what’s up with your competition.

You may know who your competitors are, but do you have an idea of which bloggers and reporters are writing about them? Hopefully, the answer’s “yes,” because otherwise you’re in prime position to be washed away by others’ media coverage.

Knowing who’s covering your competitors on a regular basis gives you the opportunity to build relationships with reporters covering your space. Some may have beats that focus on individual companies (i.e., a reporter dedicated to covering Amazon, for example). That doesn’t mean they won’t cover you, so feel free to introduce yourself. Be sure to point out why they should care about your organization, even going so far as to offer counterpoints on how you’re different from the companies they normally cover.

Buffetism: “I blew out my flip-flop. Stepped on a pop-top. Cut my heel I had to cruise on back home.”


PR translation: Be ready for a crisis.

I once worked in PR for a company that published phone books, and consumers would often complain about the thousand page tomes that were left on their doorsteps (even if they are recyclable). Their reactions often put us in crisis mode, but we were always prepared. We had measured responses and facts that we would recite to the media, and a great customer support team ready to help alleviate concerns. To some, this might be a small crisis, but it was always a pretty big deal for us.

The point is that whatever your definition of a crisis is, it’s always good to be prepared in advance. Get talking points together, and educate everyone on what they are. This is especially true for senior executives and any customer-facing support teams. And while it’s not always feasible to take the time to have a crisis communications plan in place, it’s great insurance to have.

Buffetism: “Ain’t it crazy how somethin’ seems like nothin’ at all. Take a big old room, make it seem so small. Seein’ windows where there are walls makes a whole lot of something out of nothin’ at all.”

“Somethin’ ‘Bout a Boat” 

PR translation: Look for opportunities in everything.

Like a pirate searching for gold doubloons, you may find nuggets of news in unlikely places. For example, a white paper can be a great starting point for a wide variety of proactive news items. You can issue a press release about the paper, which may not get a lot of coverage, but could help drive leads. And you can pull out certain topics that could be used as proactive pitches for interviews, authored articles, and more.

Don’t forget about some of the other “hidden news” items that may pop up from time to time. These include things like new hires, office openings, awards, and more. They may not be as newsworthy as a new product announcement, but they can serve to build awareness and show company growth. Little things like these add up to a treasure chest of opportunity.

Buffetism: “But there’s this one particular harbour, so far but yet so near, where I see the days as they fade away, and finally disappear.”

“One Particular Harbour”

PR translation: The end can bring a new beginning.

I realize that, from a certain perspective, One Particular Harbour is one of Buffet’s more melancholy songs. But underneath it is the hope that one can look back on past experiences while looking forward to whatever the future holds, and, ultimately, reach goals.

As we, as communications professionals, continue to move forward in our careers, we can apply past experiences to the work we’re doing today, and will likely do tomorrow. We can take the lessons we’ve learned and use them to inform new strategic plans and tactical execution. We can look forward to using new types of solutions and technologies to better connect with the media, customers, and others. And we can be secure in the knowledge that we, and our professions, will continue to evolve.

And, finally…

Buffetism: “Getting paid by the hour, and older by the minute. My boss just pushed me, over the limit. I could call him something, think I’ll just call it a day…”

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”

PR translation: Sometimes, it’s just better to know when to call it a day and walk away.



Pete Larmey
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