Mise En Place PR
How cooking and PR are eerily similar
Great chefs aren’t born, they’re forged – and I submit the same is true for PR professionals. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, “mise en place” is a French term for “having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking” – if you stick with this blog, I promise it will all make sense.
The idea for this blog came about as many ideas in PR do, in the middle of a collaboration session between fellow PR pros. One of our account services coordinators, Anna Meyers, was in the midst of creating an awesome social media graphic designed to highlight how the Caster crew combats stress. Unsurprisingly, my tip involved either getting outside, or getting moving, as I’ve blogged about this topic plenty. However, it was one of our stellar account managers, Olivia Sellke’s tip in fact, that served as the “sourdough starter” if you will, to this loaf of a blog post.
As I am sure the suspense at this point is killing you, here’s what Olivia said:
This tip was completely different from all the others collected, and my brain simply would not let go of the concept that a LOT of what we do every day in PR is shockingly similar to the process of learning how to cook. In the same fashion that a prepared dish is a combination of ingredients, prepared in a certain order, a successful PR program is also determined by the sum of its parts. It’s not just about a singular piece of coverage, but a collection of a variety of activities.
A Step-by-Step Process
When a cook sets out to make a new dish, they follow a recipe. Before they even start, they analyze the ingredient list, take stock, and make sure they have all of the required items to successfully create the dish. From there, they review and read through the instructions to prepare and give themselves an idea of the steps they will be working through for this culinary creation. Once they have done all that, then they can actually begin the process, and start following the recipe. If a cook is following a recipe for a dish they’ve never created before, they follow the instructions carefully, making mental notes during the process and perhaps moving a little more slowly than if they knew the recipe by heart.
To lock my analogy in, PR pros follow “recipes” all the time. A news launch, a media tour, a social media campaign – you name it – these are all examples of different “meals” we create throughout the duration of our careers. Prior to a launch coming together, PR pros go through all the same steps as a cook setting themselves up to follow a recipe:
- PR Pros analyze the ingredient list to ensure access to all of the materials needed to even begin. If a key ingredient is missing, we take note and work on securing that ingredien
- PR Pros review and read through the instructions. This is our timeline, our order of operations, our PR plan. Here, we determine which components need to be completed first, which components can be created in parallel of each other, and which components are the finishing touches.
- PR Pros start to prepare the recipe. Client interviews, resource/asset gathering, notes, drafts, writing, client feedback, asset creation – these are the “parts” that make the whole, and the order matters.
From Line Cook to Head Chef
The more a chef follows a recipe to create a dish, the better they get. The more a PR pro goes through their processes, the better they get. Along the way, the chef begins to internalize the ingredient list, remember exactly what they need, and the order in which the ingredients are combined the create the desired dish. Not only that, the chef also starts to learn which steps can be done in parallel of each other, and the amount of time each of those components takes. Essentially, following the recipe takes less time with each successful completion.
The same is true for PR. The more recipes a PR pro follows, the better they become at understanding all the different pieces required to complete their objective. The PR pro also begins to conceptualize the required steps and formulate a tighter timeline with a firm understanding on which parts need to be completed when, and which steps can be done in parallel of each other to get to the desired outcome more quickly.
Got Any Special Instructions?
In the same fashion there is room for modification to taste in cooking, there’s room for modifications in the recipes we follow for our clients. The recipe provides the foundation, but every “guest” at the PR Restaurant can offer their special instructions. Extra sauce, hold the pickles? You got it. As seasoned PR chefs we can whip up a PR plan that follows the basics but takes those requests into consideration. We can also tell you when it’s probably a poor choice; we won’t be making you a tuna fish milkshake, for example.
The end goal of following either recipe – whether you’re a chef or a PR pro – is to create something that makes the customer/client happy, and is so good, that they come back to order it again. The more seasoned the chef, the easier that process gets but there’s no way around the practice, patience, and time required to get there.
With that, Bon Appetit!