I have often joked about having to do “family PR,” but I’m taking it seriously this Thanksgiving, as I’ve decided to take my kids on a trek across three states to reunite with family members we haven’t seen in a while – some we haven’t seen in quite a while. So, I’m pulling out a few PR tactics to ensure a smooth ride on the “interstate of family interactions.”
Begin with a goal and set realistic expectations. My ultimate motivation behind this trip was to provide an opportunity for my kids to reconnect with family they haven’t seen in a while. Some of the impending exchanges are expected to be awkward and uneasy. I’m bracing for uncomfortable conversations and embarrassing moments. But, my goal is to end up back at home with a memoir of stories for my kids to tell for years to come.
Keep media training tips in mind. I’m expecting several communication speed bumps during this trip, so I’ll be looking to practice what I preach in my media training sessions and avoid some of the most common danger zones. Here are just a few examples:
- The absent-party trap. As is the case at many family functions, discussions about absent family members are sure to arise, and I’m vowing to stick to silence this year when others push to discuss the absent party.
- The hypothetical or “what if” question. I’m planning to disappoint a few of my “glass half empty” family members by halting the discussions about hypothetical gloom and doom. “We don’t expect that to happen” will be the stop-and-turn point for those conversations, with a move back to my key messages of positive plans for our future.
- Picking a fight. Let me tell you, I have buttons, and some of my family members know how to push them! But with my end goal in sight, I’m committed to keeping my cool and killing them with kindness to get through the trip and give my kids an awesome experience; and I’m prepared to walk away when the going gets too tough.
Map out a plan, prepare for detours and enjoy the ride! From the physical route to my vision for how the trip should play out, I’ve taken time to think through the details, determine possible problems and prepare as best as possible for what may come. And, as I’ve learned from event planning, there comes a point that the planning is over and the party begins. I will enjoy this trip and be proud of myself for making it happen for the family!
Happy Thanksgiving from Obsidian Public Relations! We’ll be taking a break next week to enjoy the holiday with our families. We’ll get back to blogging following the break.