Most Powerful PR Lessons from Calvin and Hobbes

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We previously shared with you how a well-known secret agent’s advice can make you a stronger tech PR professional. This time, we turn to a mischievous child and his imaginary best friend for more lessons. Here you have it, nine valuable PR lessons from Calvin and Hobbes.

You Can Turn Something Ordinary into Something Extraordinary
Tired of seeing the same old press releases or byline content? Take a new perspective. Calvin and Hobbes continually turn an ordinary cardboard box into ingenious inventions like a time travel machine, clone duplicator and animal transformer. While you may think a press release is just another press release, it has the power to be more than that. Change your perspective and challenge yourself to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.
Understand What Distinguishes a Good Brand from a Great One
Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson is notorious for prohibiting licensed merchandise and ending his comic strip once it peaked. His bold moves kept Calvin and Hobbes relevant for decades, while other comic strips faded into obscurity. Always be mindful when working on product launches, contributed content and PR campaigns. Does your strategy cheapen or strengthen the image your client is trying to build?

Unpleasant Tasks Build Character
Calvin’s father constantly utters the phrase “it builds character” when he tells Calvin to do something he hates like shoveling snow or cleaning the house. There are lessons in every task no matter how much you dislike it and how mundane it may appear. Remembering this helps make reoccurring PR work like building media lists, filling out time sheets or reviewing briefing documents more enjoyable and worthwhile.
Know the Difference Between Fantasy and Reality
Just as Calvin uses his imagination to make life more intriguing, always recognize what’s feasible and what isn’t. While you may want your client featured in the The Wall Street Journal, a more focused, mid-tier publication might be better a fit. Dream big, but stay rooted in reality so you can bring in solid wins for your customers.
Know When to Walk Away from Work
Tech PR requires you to hustle. However, it’s critical for your well being that you also make time for your friends, family and personal hobbies. For instance, Calvin’s dad often works extra hours at home. However, he understands the importance of bonding with Calvin on those rare school snow days that will vanish once Calvin becomes an adult. Moments like those don’t last forever. So, if it means working later or getting an earlier start the next day to spend time with your loved ones, then make that sacrifice.

Don’t Always Follow the Crowd
Calvin often drives his teachers, classmates and parents crazy, but they recognize his potential and admire his capability to surprise them. Channel your inner Calvin in team meetings or via email and share creative ideas that may go against the norm.
Learn to Wear Multiple Hats
Calvin can transform himself into Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff and Tracer Bullet at will, preventing him from becoming a one-dimensional character. In PR, your willingness to tackle multiple job roles will make you more valuable to your peers and prevent you from becoming a one-trick pony. So, like Calvin, learn to juggle multiple hats so you can please clients, build relationships with media, write stellar releases and vet speaking and awards with ease.

Know the Consequences of Being Too Mischievous
Calvin fans know that he gets into way too much trouble. Getting grounded for locking the babysitter outside, dropping a giant snowball on his neighbor and other mischievous tasks cause him a lot of grief. While most people know better, make sure you act professionally on social media, in the office and at networking events. It’s okay to share jokes and make light of situations, but going too far like Calvin might get you into trouble.
Be There for Your PR Family
Throughout all their ups and downs Calvin and Hobbes remain best friends. Reporters, PR professionals and clients all need each other to do their jobs effectively. Even though you may not always agree with them, be sure to handle disagreements with tact.

While Calvin and Hobbes has entertained fans for year, the lessons within the comic strip offer more than just entertainment. As you traverse the world of PR remember these powerful lessons from this adventurous duo.

I wrote this blog originally for BOCA Communications.

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