We journalists depend on public relations professionals to suggest story ideas and handle the logistics to get the story done. In 2009, American-born Israeli publicist Marjie Hadad pitched me a story about one of her clients. Going beyond the norm, she offered to pick me up at a meeting spot and drive me to and from the interview.
On the way, we discussed our children. I was then a new grandmother, and her kids were still young. Her devotion to them was apparent, but until I read her book The Power of PR Parenting, I didn’t realize that Hadad’s devotion to her career and family are intertwined.
PR is a demanding job necessitating creative thinking, soft sales, good written and oral communication, and crisis management. Hadad believes those same skills can be applied to another demanding career – raising children.
How can PR skills help you raise kids?
Her book explains how she has done this, in partnership with her husband, Isaac, and how anyone can apply PR principles to childrearing. Providing honest examples of successes (and occasional failures) from her own life, Hadad suggests techniques to guide children through challenges such as parting with a pacifier, dealing with bullies, and speaking at their bar/bat mitzvah. And she recommends PR principles to help parents keep their cool, be more present, and handle inevitable crises.
At the end of each chapter is a QR code and a hyperlink to access a free workbook for reviewing and practicing the ideas presented.
The common-sense approaches Hadad presents aren’t particular to the PR profession and could probably be found in any good parenting book. The difference is in how she packages her advice. For example, we all know that reading and writing are important skills to instill in children. The way Hadad sees it, “Strong writing skills are a prerequisite for any publicist… as we try to brilliantly story-tell a client’s unique selling points (USPs), essentially, what makes them special. Good writing skills are also crucial for several rites of passage growing up. For example, college and scholarship applications – the ability to clearly explain yourself and your vision can make the difference in achieving success.”
In the Hadad family, the tooth fairy ceremony began with “handwriting the tooth fairy a formal request letter, in English or Hebrew, sometimes both, depending on how far I felt I could push at the moment. Isaac or I would help them along the way with content as they requested. Then, if the letter was in Hebrew, Isaac would edit it. If in English, then, with my child next to me, I would edit, in a soft, unalarming color (never red), while explaining, ‘This is one way to do it. Let me show you another way.’”
Hadad advocates using written contracts with children “just like I insist on at work, documenting the expectations and the consequences in the event expectations were not met, like showing up to school.”
She and her husband agreed on consequences with each child that would be imposed for a specific infraction that came up in the past and wanted to prevent in the future. Then they drew up and signed a contract. A sample contract is included in the book.
“Don’t rely on verbal promises,” she writes. “Contracts will empower you, establish a sense of order, and give your kids some much-needed boundaries, which, in some cases are a way to show that you care.” If the terms of the contract are breached, “you need to dig deep to find the strength to follow through and hold your ground.”
My favorite chapter is “Keeping Your Cool” because I certainly wasn’t a pro at that when my children were growing up.
Hadad writes, “Managing emotions is not easy. In fact, it’s hard. Sometimes we’ll succeed, and other times not. If you fly off the handle for one thing or another, try to do better the next time. And I promise you, there will be a next time. There always is.”
As in all the chapters, she backs up that advice with practical bullet points. The checklist in the case of managing emotions includes, for example, taking a moment to gain perspective; imagining what a person you admire would do in this situation; remembering that it’s not what you say but how you say it; and paying attention to message, words, and tone.
Chapter 8, “Showing Up,” will resonate with any parent working outside the home. “In public relations, all clients want to feel like they are your one and only, and that they have access to you whenever they need,” Hadad writes. “If we..... prioritize like this for our clients or bosses, then why shouldn’t we do the same for our kids?”
The Power of PR Parenting is an easy, breezy read from which any parent can glean good ideas for navigating the most challenging and important career of all.
The Power of PR ParentingBy Marjie HadadMuse Literary222 pages; $24.99