I just got back from a major international event I did P.R. for, and I’m happy to report it rocked with great vehemence.
I didn’t do it alone, though. Much of the event’s success can be attributed to my awesome coworkers, several months of planning, the great people who attended, previous failures, and the topic of discussion: a killer P.R. survival kit.
From stamps to dry shampoo, the list below contains a few essentials you’ll need to rock an event while doing P.R.. So indulge, and bid farewell to the ill-equipped travel days.
– Flash Drives. You know what they’re for, so be sure to carry one of these compact little beauties with you at all times. Load them up with your press releases, backgrounders, logos and images, and give them to reporters. They’ll be happy they scored a flash drive, too.
– Business Cards. ALL OF THEM. It’s better to bring more cards with you than you think you’ll need than to run out of them. The “I just gave out my last card” excuse is lame, and it’s equivalent to the grade school “my dog ate my homework” excuse. Don’t be caught without business cards. EVER.
– Magnetic Phone Book. Old school, you think? Well, maybe a little, but you’ll remember me when your iPad/iPhone/Android or any other means of electronic communication dies before your eyes, leaving you paralyzed with frustration. Write down at least your top five contacts, and include someone who may have access to your entire phone book.
– Stamps. I swear by them. How thoughtful is it for you to send a postcard to one of your closest friends/clients while in, say, Hawaii? Or how about mailing a thank you note for a wonderful meeting you had? Don’t forget the relationship aspect of public relations. But most importantly – be yourself, and be real. Forced notes can come across as awkward or superficial.
– Dry Shampoo. Your life will never be the same after using it. If you’re anything like me, you know that showers are a luxury during high-intensity events, so dry shampoo is the only way to go. My personal favorite is Oscar Blandi’s (and yes, it works for men, too!).
– Oil Blotting Papers. Oil doesn’t discriminate gender, so again, gentlemen – pay close attention. By midday during a hectic event, chances are your face has already melted. Oil blotting paper will give you a quick pick-me-up, leaving your face looking fresh and radiant. It is to your face what Brawny paper towels are to a countertop with freshly-spilled Kool-Aid. It’s especially important when you’re meeting people for the first time. First impressions go a long way, so make sure you’re looking fresh and clean at all times. The best out there are made by Shiseido.
– Guitar picks. Alright, this IS Guitar and PR, so I just had to through a guitar-related accessory in the mix. What can I say? A guitar pick is my sword, and I am vulnerable without it. Even if you don’t anticipate playing guitar, you never know when you’ll join a busker on the street for an impromptu musical act (I’ve done it before). I use the Dunlop Eric Johnson Jazz III picks.
– Black Sharpie. Sharpies deserve a Nobel prize. I personally have a Sharpie shrine at my desk, and find that they are the most underrated and versatile writing utensils on planet Earth. Black in particular is the most useful of the bunch when traveling. Why? Because it substitutes shoe polish in a fashion emergency. It also comes to the rescue during that ungodly moment when you spill toothpaste on your black shirt. Rinse with warm water, and let the black Sharpie do the rest.
– Your cool. No, that wasn’t a typo. Don’t forget to bring and keep your cool. It’s very easy to lose your mind and have a meltdown during crazy events, so don’t forget you’re not only representing yourself, you’re representing your client/corporation. If you do lose your cool, do it behind the curtains. P.S. You’re cool.
Prepare for the unexpected. These last two items aren’t really tangible, but they’re just as important – if not more – than all the other things on this list. A huge portion of event planning and P.R. requires instant problem solving and thinking on your feet. If something doesn’t go as planned, drop the sheet music and improvise with impeccable finesse. It’s an art and a skill that requires practice (like improvising on your guitar).
That’s pretty much my bag of tricks, but I should add that these items complement things you should obviously not forget, e.g.: cell phone charger, mints, ear plugs, basic toiletries, cash, passport, medications, your favorite book, etc.
Special thanks go out to my awesome boss and mentor for teaching me half the things I know.
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