Do you follow your gut feelings? I do. In fact, that’s why I work in public relations.
The gut feeling that started me on this path came at about age 7. I was so enchanted by Charlotte’s Web as read aloud by my teacher, I decided immediately that I wanted to work with words. Of course I didn’t know what PR was then, but I stuck to my goal. Eventually I went to journalism school, where I learned to write news and tell real-life stories.
However it was another gut feeling that convinced me that using words to promote and persuade were more my line. That feeling surfaced during my first PR job at Marquette University.
The year I was there, generating publicity for homecoming fell to me. Now, homecoming is pretty much the same from year to year, let’s face it. I was determined to make it fresh, though. I loved the freedom to brainstorm creative ideas.
Many of Marquette’s alumni still lived in the area, so I played to nostalgia. I placed a 1950s homecoming parade picture from the university’s archives in a newspaper photo feature called “Remember When.” I wrote Marquette trivia questions and sent them to the radio stations, where they were used by a morning deejay.
Brainstorming ideas and taking them from concept to reality was irresistible then. I am happy to say it still is.
A year ago, someone I advised on strategic planning described me as “an idea machine whose wheels are always turning.” I cherish that image of nonstop energy and originality. It captures exactly how I feel when I am playing with ideas.
Gut feelings and brainstorms helped me find the kind of work wanted to do, and I consider them major assets now in advising clients as well. People typically hire consultants to help them solve challenges they haven’t solved yet on their own. Often someone who is not on staff brings a fresh perspective (including gut feelings) and new ideas (including brainstorms). These can make all the difference in forming solutions and producing results.
Of course not everything I do relies on instinct and imagination. I have cultivated lots of hard skills along the way — writing, project management, public speaking, pitching stories to journalists, organizing events, to name a few. It’s been fun and challenging to accumulate this experience as well. But in the end, I find it’s the softer skills—the gut feelings, the brainstorms, and the moments when they crystallize my ideas — that leave my fingerprints on my work.