Baking up PR insights

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My latest experiment: almond butter cookies. Photo by Gabrielle Nygaard

It certainly wasn’t the result of any resolution, but in 2013, I’ve become a full-blown cookie baker. Before, I was a one-trick pony—chocolate chip. Granted, a darn good trick, and a classic at that, but even the classics can lose their appeal if played on repeat.

I wanted to keep my family and new coworkers supplied with treats, but didn’t want my cookies to become a chore to choke down. I’m by no means a good cook, so I was hesitant, but I took the plunge and finally tried my hand at something new. Double chocolate butterscotch coconut at that. Madness.

And voilà: now I’m trying out different cookies weekly, and even getting adventurous with my recipes. Yesterday I really threw caution to the wind and came up with an original almond butter maple vanilla chip creation. So long, Nestlé Toll House.

Reflecting while whisking up my experimental dough, I realized just how much I could learn by the batch. In a lot of ways, the pointers I had discovered for success in my new hobby could also guide me in my career path. Public relations practitioners are ever insightful, finding inspiration in all things from Oreo shakes to 30 Rock and Top Chef. Everything can be a useful metaphor for the profession to which I aspire. Why not my improv cookies?

Off the top of my head, here’s just a few lessons I’ve found apply in both baking and PR:

  • They say it’s a science, and that’s true—to a point. You need certain elements for the recipe to come together successfully. Go in with a plan of attack, including clear objectives, and cover your bases. Don’t forget Mis en Place.
  • But be creative! Spice it up and infuse your individuality into your work. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes things turn out even if you don’t follow the plan to the letter.
  • Likewise, the ability to improvise is invaluable. If you find at the last second you’re short on a key ingredient, you’ve got to be able to think on your feet.
  • On the other hand, at times, it doesn’t quite come together, both when you take risks and do it by the book. But it’s OK. Learn from your mistakes and improve the next batch.
  • Sometimes it’s hard for us to judge the flavor of our own work. Ask others for constructive criticism (and don’t be defensive once you receive it). The more specific questions you ask, the better advice you’ll end up with.
  • Share your successes. It makes them taste that much better.

And don’t forget the secret ingredient: salt—er, love.

Stay humble, stay hungry.

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