If you work in communications, it’s likely that you’ve compared the experience of a new biz pitch or development of a campaign to “giving birth.” From the spark of an idea to the nurturing and public release of a campaign, it’s truly a labor of love. Having fairly recently, in fact, been in labor, I can confirm that communications and motherhood are pretty much the EXACT same thing.
While I’m not the first to wax poetic about the similarities of PR and motherhood (insert unruly toddler joke here), it must be said that our industry is becoming more and more conducive to working parents. Before all else, I must acknowledge how lucky I am to work at an agency that values working parents and could support me throughout this journey. When they say it takes a village, they’re referring to your extended network, clients and colleagues that can help to navigate this major life change. I’ve learned that the essential traits needed in comms – problem-solving, persistence and poise in the face of chaos – have helped tremendously in parenthood. Here are three key learnings that will stick with me as I return to work full-time:
1) Be prepared – While humans have been raising our young for millions of years without What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the amount of information available today makes everyone an “expert.” You can’t always trust everything you read, but you can use information to arm yourself when reading and responding to your child’s cues. This type of behavior response is critical with clients’ needs as well. The response may not be as simple as tending to an infant, but by tuning in to your client and preparing for future change you can more quickly adapt.
2) Be Type A – There’s no “right” style of parenting but I couldn’t imagine maintaining some semblance of balance personally and professionally without sticking to a schedule. In the working world we usually brag about being busy, but having a full schedule, as long as you’re productive and efficient with your time each day, just works.
3) Speak their language – Yes, communications is not the only industry where communicating is essential but we take it one step further. By truly listening and responding through the right platforms and voice, we meet our mission as professionals: targeting our audiences in the most bespoke way possible. The same can be said for parenting – whether with your partner, child or a care-giver, choosing the right tone and platform is necessary for getting results. But remember, not every scenario is cookie cutter and will often call for different styles of communicating.
I’m in no way claiming to have cracked the parenting code but I do have a new appreciation for problem-solving and a reignited spark for learning thanks to motherhood. As each new challenge in motherhood arises, hopefully this will prepare me for anything that the comms industry throws my way.
Christa Conte is SVP and head of Digital Commerce for global comms agency Hotwire in New York. Overseeing the Digital Commerce Practice, Christa shares her integrated comms expertise with clients in the e-commerce, retail, adtech and martech industries. From emerging brands to Fortune 500 companies, Christa has helped companies like Rakuten, Indeed.com, Marketo and GroundTruth to align sales, product marketing and leadership functions through strategic comms. Christa will seize any opportunity available to mentor for organizations like NYWICI and PRSA-NY, where she is a previous winner of the 15 Under 35 Award. A graduate of Hofstra University and a lifelong Jersey girl, Christa and her husband welcomed their beautiful baby, Ben, into the world in November 2017.