Opinion: 10 reasons why working in PR is like fatherhood
Lee Bassin, senior producer at TVC Group, has downed his broadcasting PR tools for five months to tackle the most challenging of roles and take on full-time care of his two infant children. But there’s no panic in this dad’s eyes! With more than 13 years’ industry experience behind him, he’s finding some remarkable similarities between running a client brief and taking care of the kids…
As the nights get longer and winter approaches, I too am experiencing my very own change of season as the world as I know it has been altered considerably.
Thanks to new legislation in 2015, I have been able to take the last five months of my wife’s maternity leave.
And hey presto, for the rest of the year I have gone from being a senior producer at a busy PR agency, creating content for some of the biggest brands in the world, to being a full time dad, arguing with a belligerent three-year-old girl and an obstructive six-month-old baby!
It’s been a culture shock to say the least, but I like to think that my career at TVC has prepared me well for the task ahead and that certain skills I have learned can be applied to my new role.
I’m used to having a lot of plates spinning at once with multiple campaigns on the go and numerous shoots to plan at the same time.
But now I’m a full time dad with a three-year-old and a six-month-old, the multi-tasking has gone next level, as they need feeding, entertaining and clearing up after, often at the same time!
However these three rules help me multi-task:
- Whichever one is crying gets whatever they need first
- The big one helps look after the little one
- Neither of them will remember any neglect during my time as their primary carer
Get used to dealing with demanding people
“You carry on with what you are doing, what I want can wait,” SAID NO TODDLER EVER.
But after dealing with some very demanding clients in my time, who wanted my immediate attention whenever they felt like it, telling my three-year-old to wait five minutes before I put Minions on for the 87th time is a piece of cake!
Negotiation is key
Negotiating thousands of pounds worth of costs for highly complex shoots and campaigns is one thing, but the hardest negotiation I have ever had was trying to get my daughter to eat three carrot sticks for dinner.
Ignoring the fact that I had to offer a chocolate brownie, a portion of chips and some actual money in return, it still felt like victory!
Work calmly under pressure
Working well when your back’s against the wall is a key skill in my line of work.
But getting seven scoops of formula milk into a bottle without losing count while my six-month-old daughter screams like she has never eaten before is my new definition of calmness under pressure!
If you miss even the smallest detail in my job, it can be catastrophic.
Miss one detail in my current role and you leave your baby in the house while you calmly drive off thinking this fatherhood lark is a piece of cake.
Best laid plans …
No matter how much I plan a shoot, things happen to change my perfect schedule and I have to roll with the punches.
And so is the case with my six-month-old daughter, who constantly ruins my lovely meal plans by looking at me with disdain rather than opening her mouth to accept whichever mashed up food I am giving her at that time, will only eat food that is pureed to the right consistency and my personal favourite, has a habit of spitting food directly into my face.
Don’t be late
I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I was always late to shoots and never delivered any of my edits on time.
Likewise I would be a pretty poor parent if my daughter was late for school every day and I was late to pick her up, leaving her sitting on the school steps on her own with only a disapproving teacher for company and the wrath of the School Mum Mafia.
All it takes is leaving six hours before school starts to beat the traffic.
There’s lots of waiting around on shoots and you need to be patient and understanding.
There’s also lots of waiting round when your three year old insists on putting her own shoes on, buttoning up her coat herself and searching for the teddy bear to take with her that she only acknowledged the existence of a day ago, but which has suddenly become the centre of her world.
Sometimes you just have to play along
We’ve all been there in the PR game, when the client is married to an idea and you just have to go along with it.
Which is what I was reminded of the other day as I played a game of hide and seek where my daughter spent most of her time hiding in plain sight and a game of I Spy with someone who doesn’t know letters.
“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with car.”
Deal with mountains being made out of molehills
When it comes to people you are working with, sometimes they make a big deal about something that really doesn’t warrant it.
Kind of like my daughter:
“Daddy you didn’t cut my toast up.” (Cries)
“Daddy you wouldn’t let me put shampoo in my hair.” (Cries)
“Daddy you put my shoe on the wrong foot.” (Cries)
“Daddy you gave me a blue cup.” (Cries)
For all the chaos though, this is proving to be a rewarding experience, spending time with two of my favourite people.
And who knows, maybe I can learn some new skills to bring back to work with me in January.
Because if a client needs someone who knows every episode of Sooty back to front, can carry a small baby while preparing a bowl of cereal and doesn’t flinch at a baby poo that a 40-year-old man would be proud of, then I’m your man!
- Lee Bassin is senior producer at TVC Group.