What can great hospitality teach public relations?
M&C spent last weekend in LA, and while we enjoyed every minute of the trip, I wish we could say that we’d been able to enjoy the sun and sand for more than a moment.
We were there to teach a media training workshop and produce a number of videos and podcasts for Lung Cancer Foundation of America. We were busy from sunup to sundown for three straight days.
(Ok, we took a tiny break Friday night, BUT WE HAD OUR COMPUTERS.)
This is work we love: creating great content, sharing our skills, and making a difference as part of a larger team.
But it was a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast that got me to thinking: public relations has a lot to learn from the hospitality industry.
For two years, we have held the workshop at the Jamaica Bay Inn, a wonderful waterside hotel with a cheery, sunny meeting room, lots of space, and simply wonderful service. The team made sure the workshop guests had everything they needed, placed fresh flowers in the meeting room, reassembled the furniture overnight after we tore the place apart to create the right angles to tape video, and made sure breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an evening reception were served on time, in the right place, and with friendly, professional service. In short, they knew their jobs and executed them flawlessly.
But it was the room steward named Jeri who made me think about how we do our jobs. She and I were the first ones in the room on the final morning. Breakfast for the attendees wouldn’t be ready for another half hour and I had to start checking the AV equipment for the live Zoom calls that were part of the day’s events. Jeri remembered from last year that if I don’t get breakfast ahead of the group, I don’t get breakfast.
As I walked in the door she said, “Honey, you go sit outside on the patio and I’m going to bring you some bacon and eggs and a big cup of coffee.”
Listen, I will always break for breakfast and a cup of coffee big enough to have its own undertow, but what made me so grateful is that Jeri knew her job (and my job) so well that she stepped in to make my life just a little bit easier and more pleasant.
Could I have found my own breakfast? You bet.
Would it have killed me to skip a meal? Not on your life. (Just joking, I keep protein bars in my suitcase. Meals have never missed this gal.)
But in that moment, I took Jeri’s cue and sat outside to enjoy a moment of sunshine and early morning peace and quiet before jumping into another very busy and productive day. Glorious.
The workshop went so well: the attendees had a great time and learned a lot. Our clients were pleased and said they were able to relax and enjoy the workshop because they knew M&C had it all in hand.
Can you imagine a better compliment for your work?
Hospitality is the art of making people comfortable, looking after their needs and anticipating how to make their day a bit more enjoyable.
We like to say that we move the stairs for clients: creatively solving problems, approaching challenges with a can-do (or already done!) attitude and an eye for how it will move the needle toward clients' goals. As we flex our skills in public relations, content production, and measurement, it’s always good to be reminded that hospitality- making our clients’ day a bit better- is what they will really remember.
That’s what I want clients to think about us: “It’s M&C. They've got this.”