Great Scott! I’ve been a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy for as long as I can remember and pretty excited for today, Oct. 21, 2015, to finally get here -- aka, Back to the Future Day! In case you’re not familiar, in part two of the trilogy, Doc Brown, Marty and Jennifer travel 30 years into the future (today), in order to stop an event from happening that could ruin their futures. Pretty heavy, right?
And as with any great film, there are always takeaways one can apply to life or even the workplace. In the interest of keeping it in the work family, below are some key learnings from the Back to the Future films that we should remember to better ourselves as PR practitioners:
Have a plan...but plan for the unexpected, too. So many of the plot points in the Back to the Future trilogy revolve around a plan of action (Part 1: getting Marty back to the future), but are always thwarted by some sort of conflict(s) (the electric cable detaching from the clock tower, Biff stealing the sports almanac, and of course, the Delorean getting struck by lightning at the end). While a PR plan/timeline can serve as the backbone for a campaign, it’s usually a guarantee that something will come up that will cause you to change course: a delay in product development, travel / schedule conflicts, and even an occasional storm that rains out an event. You should always anticipate issues, but sometimes the best remedy is to stay flexible, keep calm and carry on.
Nothing worth having comes without a challenge. Learn to address them head-on! While much of his actions against Biff are fueled by his taunting, Marty never backs down from him in any of the three films, and always perseveres against a bigger, stronger force, using the resources at his disposal (remember the makeshift skateboard?). If you want your “dream reporter” to cover your client, you have to do the legwork. Do your research, learn what makes them tick, and don’t pitch something you know is not a good fit -- if you put the work into it, you might just get what you want.
And my favorite of all…
Own it! Doc Brown closed out the trilogy with one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: “Your future is whatever you make it -- so make it a good one!” We’re all responsible for what we say -- or don't, and the actions we take -- or don’t. At the end of the day, you have to be the best judge on the proper course of action -- whether you’re dealing with a difficult situation, debating whether to give that journalist one last try, saying “no” to taking on a task you don’t have the bandwidth for, or even knowing when to apologize if you’ve made a mistake, and then fixing it.
So, until the Doc Brown of our time brings the Flux Capacitor to market, there’s no going back in time to fix things before they happen! Makes taking control of the sometimes-scary-but-rewarding present the best you can do...for now!