Towards the end of my freshman year at Baylor, one of the professors in the theatre program was granted the ‘ok’ to give an experimental performance to all of the students. This professor has a tremendous work ethic and demands that you put as much of yourself (mentally and physically) in each performance – his presentation was a prime example of this. It was called ‘Birth Chair’ – a cirque du soleil type piece where he spent 15 minutes s-l-o-w-l-y delivering himself from this chair.
It was odd, uncomfortable and so far out of left field that I both dreaded and looked forward to my sophomore class with him on Mask Characterization – a class that aimed to help participants take some vocal, physical and mental risks as actors, while developing some very strong tools for ‘unmasked’ character development. The class was a trip – not only because we all had to wear tights (male & female) and go though some strenuous physical activity; but also because it encouraged us to really find that ‘mischievous sprite’ within ourselves
Now, while this whole process may sound a bit bizarre or weird, that experience gave me a lot to tap into in my work in public relations and social media:
- Process for Discovery – the process of marinating a piece of meat was a lot like the process we took in class. Some days, it felt like we spent WAY TOO LONG to handle one task; but there was a method to our instructor’s madness. Had we rushed this process, we would’ve come out of the gate with something half baked. It’s the same with our clients – unless I give the team (on both sides) the freedom to discover what make the other side exceptional and valuable, we are doomed to fail. When we give ourselves some proper getting-to-know-you time, oftentimes we uncover some opportunities that may have otherwise been overlooked.
- Push Some Boundaries – Why does a PR or Social Media program have to follow the same paths that everyone else is taking? Yes, there are some things that work well, but that doesn’t mean that they work EVERY TIME, nor does it mean that any one tactic may work as well for this client over that one. If it rings true to a message and its audience, then there’s no reason to stretch the limits of fresh look on external communications.
- Does It Have to Make Sense? – One of my classmates (20 years old at the time) developed a character that ended up being a cantankerous old man that loved chocolate cake and hated flat-footed women. Much to this old man’s dismay, the best chocolate cake in town was made by a flat-footed neighbor that was sweet on him (pun intended). Even though this geezer was a bit rough on the edges, there was something very sweet, affectionate and endearing about him. This 20-year old kid had NO BUSINESS trying to do this; but by marinating in this process, it just made sense. So, if you take the time to brainstorm on different ways to communicate your message and come upon something completely unique that works on some level (without compromising your client’s reputation), WHY NOT give it a go?
What ‘birth chairs’ in your life have you run into that have helped you push some boundaries? What is your process of discovery when you begin a working relationship with a new client?