In November, the Account Coordinators attended a PRSA “Pitching Boot Camp,” presented by Michael Smart. We learned lots of tips and tricks on pitching and media relations, which have already come in handy for our several of our clients. The biggest lesson I learned, though, didn’t come from Michael Smart or any of the conference attendees, but from a dark booth at an Outback Steakhouse.
Let me explain.
The night before the seminar, we all piled into Saul’s car and hit the road to Chicago. The three of us had been working together for a couple months, but we learned pretty quickly there was a lot we didn’t know about each other. In between getting lost in Chicago on the way to our hotel and trying to track down a place to eat dinner, we bonded over stories of our college days and just how many nights a week we spend prowling State Street. By the time we sat down to dinner at Outback Steakhouse, there was a marked increase in the level of comfort we had with each other. This led to some great collaborative brainstorming over the next few hours, and into the seminar the next day. By the time we headed back to Madison, we had teased out a ton of new strategies for pitching and social media, a couple blog post ideas, and a plan of action to present our seminar findings to the rest of the CB&A team.
Too often, I think, “collaboration” becomes a sort of buzzword that has no real place in the day-to-day lives of people who work together. The truth is, collaboration is an important part of any office atmosphere, especially at an agency. Creative ideas and problem-solving strategies often come about through team meetings and brainstorming sessions; something that is impossible without a certain level of comfort and trust among you and your fellow employees.
It doesn’t always take hours worth of meetings, off-site workshops, or extensive agendas and “ice breakers” for collaboration. It can be simple and easy. Send your cube neighbor a quick IM about an idea you’re tossing around. Email your team some pitching ideas, and ask them to pick their favorite one. Ask for input on a PR plan at your regular team meeting.
Bottom line: Collaboration in any form can inspire great ideas.
Whether that idea comes in an email, or in a dark booth at a sketchy Outback Steakhouse, is really beside the point.