Once we were housewives, then we became stay-at-home mothers, next we gave up on kids and became filofax flapping yuppies. And then we decided we could have it all. Success on the career ladder and the school run could be ours. The number of working mums has gone up by a million in two decades in England.
Almost three-quarters of mothers with dependent children are now in full- or part-time work according to the Office for National Statistics.
I am one of them.
After nearly 20 years working long hours in PR across multiple sectors, targeting diverse audiences with carefully crafted messages, managing often challenging client expectations and budgets and continuously reviewing and measuring the success of campaigns, I am now working on my toughest brief.
I am a parent.
My objectives are clear: raise a fine young man who is secure, kind, conscientious and an all-round decent human being.
My budget is a bottomless pit.
My timeframe, a lifetime.
Sounds easy right?
The Return On Investment (ROI) isn’t always evident amidst moaning that he doesn’t have anything to do (ignoring multiple toys), refusal to do homework (three times a week) and a strong willed, entrepreneurial spirit (which isn’t always executed in the best way or easy to manage!).
Now, like all good PRs (Parental Responsibility), I am completely focused on my end goal. My tenacity, while often tested to its limit, will not fail. I remain consistent, committed and target driven.
My approach is often challenged. “X is allowed to play violent video games”, “Y stays up until 10pm”, “Z gets to drink fizzy drinks”.
While taking a ‘me too’ approach could be tempting (and make my life so much easier), I am confident that my tailored tactics will get the right results for my individual audience.
I draw much from my professional career to manage my toughest brief.
I regularly reflect on my campaign; review what is working well and what could work harder; measure my results (often simply a hug) and remain on track with my unique goals and objectives – regardless of the temptation to be a ‘me too’.
As the threat of the dreaded teenage years are not too far in the distant future, I take care to listen to my audience, stay alert to his needs, and craft my messages and methods appropriately to engage, influence and convert.
I am the thought leader in our household.
I’m sometimes guilty of talking at rather than to my audience. I am quick to spot the error of my ways however, in the knowledge that this will not help to build the long-term relationship desired.
The needs, behaviours and expectations of my audience will change over time. Every aspect of my campaign therefore, needs to be continuously monitored, reviewed and adapted accordingly.
Like all good PR campaigns, being a good parent requires clear and consistent messaging, a robust – yet flexible – approach and a long-term commitment.
And a supportive employer.