(Recycled blogpost from the ImPRessions blog, visit the blog for similar inspiration)
No band in the history of rock music can touch the Grateful Dead. The individuals referred to as “Deadheads” were not just fans, they were a community; the performances were not just concerts, they were happenings and a way of life for millions of people; and the band was not just a young bunch of 1960s-era musicians, they were public relations and marketing pioneers.
The San Francisco jamband broke all of the music industry rules by encouraging their live shows to be taped and traded, dictating a personal, active two-way community that spread the word without dropping a dime on advertising and essentially utilized “social” media, inbound marketing and PR years before their time. The key to their success? They weren’t afraid to do things that no one else had yet dared to do.
Let’s bring this down to scale and flashback to my freshman year, shall we? It was fall of 2008, and as a scared, information-hungry young soul, I looked to my older peers for answers and clung to them like they were my mom on the first day of kindergarten. They were untouchable, shining PR superheroes in my eyes and no less impressive than any celebrity one might pine over. I used every opportunity I could to ask them questions, grab coffee with them, breathe the same air as them, etc. They gave me some of the best advice and, although I was able to utilize the majority of it appropriately, I took it entirely the wrong way. I thought that in order to be as great as these seemingly immortal PR gods, I had to model my entire plan to look exactly like theirs.
No one, not even us PR majors who seem to have identical plates full of jobs, activities, classes and impressive internships, has the exact same interests, aspirations, personality traits or qualities to offer a company. What’s right for one person could possibly be the outline of what’s right for another person, but definitely not the blueprint. Additionally, when you do draw up your plan, make sure to do it with a pencil and eraser. Planning is great, but the most important thing to keep in mind is to be flexible. Unexpected opportunities are going to come your way, knock you on your butt and send all of your plans flying out of the window…and it is going to be fabulous!
Take those opportunities, even if they complicate things a little. Heck, make your own opportunities: join a club no one’s in, take a job or internship that no one before you has held, move somewhere where no one you know is living (I realize I’m being biased at this point, but just trust me on this). Ask tons and tons of questions—but don’t be afraid not to take someone’s advice. You know yourself, you know what you enjoy and only you can feel that in your gut.
Why follow in someone’s footsteps if you can make you own? I don’t want to be the “next” anyone, I want to be the first and only me. The road less traveled might seem scary, but in my opinion, that makes it seem a lot more intriguing—and getting to the other side will seem a lot more rewarding if you found the way yourself.
“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right” -“Scarlet Begonias,” The Grateful Dead