Lights, camera, pitch!
As Dittoe PR’s self-proclaimed “funny person,” I’ve dabbled in the world of comedy. In college, I was a member of Purdue’s premier improv comedy group The Crazy Monkeys, I’ve participated in an open mic night here and there, and I was awarded Best Actor for my comedic role as Bob Katz during the Dittoe PR Murder Mystery/Christmas Party of 2019.
Aside from being part-time hilarious, I also am a PR pro, and truthfully wouldn’t be where I am today in my professional life if it weren’t for my time in acting and comedy. Getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people has done more than help me to make people laugh, it’s helped me to develop many communications skills that translate incredibly well into the PR world. And I’m not just talking about writing a funny greeting in my pitches.
Not convinced? Check out how I’ve used comedy skills (from improv, stand-up or sketch!) to pitch media, share my clients’ stories, and see results.
Put yourself out there.
Doing comedy in any form is scary. You have to learn how to be confident in front of people and, at times, be comfortable with making a fool of yourself. In essence, comedy is all about losing your inhibitions and going for it in order to succeed. But it’s not just comedians who put themselves out there and commit, it’s us PR pros, too!
Those in the industry know it’s important to bring fearlessness, positive energy and confidence to brainstorm sessions, client meetings, strategy presentations, media events and everything in between. But as we do put ourselves out there, we in comedy and in PR know that sometimes, you’re not always going to get it right. Trust me, I’ve done my fair share of bombing on stage, but failing ultimately leads to learning and improvement. So, if my jokes aren’t getting any laughs (or my pitches aren’t immediately getting a “Yes!”), I re-evaluate, learn, and put myself back out there.
The first rule you learn in improv comedy is “Yes, and.” The basic premise is accepting a statement as a truth, then expanding on it further to move forward together. So, if my scene partner says, “This crispy chicken sandwich is great!” I’d respond with something like, “Yes, and it’s got this new secret aioli on it.” (Sponsor me, @Twenty Tap?)
The concept of “Yes, and” can be applied in PR daily. We’re constantly brainstorming new strategy ideas, collaborating on pitching angles and meeting internally to determine the next steps to secure media coverage for our clients. By coming at these collaborations with a “Yes, and” approach, we support our peers by affirming that yes, that is a good idea (there are no stupid questions here!), and then empower them by adding in a new idea to build out their thought even further. Feeling supported, encouraged and empowered from your ideas thanks to “Yes, and” strengthens not just an individual, but the entire office as a whole, leading to even more success for our clients.
Know your audience.
There are different types of crowds that attend different types of comedy shows, which require comedians to tailor their material accordingly. For example, Purdue has an audience of rowdy college students, open mics have a lot of hipsters, and sketch shows have a live studio audience.
We have to adapt our messaging for different PR scenarios, too. Pitching a local TV segment requires a much different approach than pitching for national coverage in the Washington Post. A talented PR pro understands which outlet to approach, the best angle to take and the difference between those audiences. Not knowing your audience results in a comedian bombing (like I said, been there) or an unread pitch (done that).
Comedy and PR have more in common than you think. PR pros with these skills in particular will help your business stand out because we read the room, adapt and always aim to land the perfect punchline.
Interested in learning more about the power of PR and what it can do for your company? Contact Lauryn Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to maximize your PR investment.