One of my hobbies is brewing beer. It isn’t difficult. It takes a bit of attention to the various stages. But once you do it a few times, it gets easier to remember and replicate. And the quality of the result is far superior to anything you can buy at Safeway. It also seems ideally suited to a discussion at CornerBarPR. Lately, I’ve been pondering how much the process of producing good quality public relations and good quality beer have in common. Quality Ingredients that are Worth the Price First there are the ingredients. It’s basic. In beermaking you have malted grains, water and hops. In PR you have your skills, contacts and hard work ethics. You can skimp on any of these ingredients and still create an acceptable product. But, if you use the best quality ingredients, ones that you’ve personally tested and selected as viable, only then can you create an outstanding product that people will talk about long afterwards. Then you have the formula or recipe. Sure, you can follow the same recipe over and over again and produce a beer that everyone likes. Or a publicity campaign that works time and again. But eventually, beer drinkers, like clients, are going to start looking elsewhere for a different taste, a different approach. It’s good to develop new recipes that follow the same basic process, but take it in new and exciting directions. Next you have storage. Keeping the beer out of the light and at a steady, cool temperature ensures the ingredients and process will evolve into a drinkable brew free from contamination and those skunky aromas. PR practices that are evaluated for results upon completion and documented for future adaptation are also better stored for eventual consumption by the hungry public sometime down the road. Good Clean Thinking Finally you have cleaning. Like anything else in life, this is a difficult process because it is tedious and it feels like you are taking a step backwards, or at least sideways, in your quest for progress. Believe me, it is essential to both beermaking and PR. Taking a course in grammar to improve your writing skills. Re-evaluating your pricing policies against what other agencies are currently charging. Learning a new management technique by reading a popular business book from a new guru. These are essential steps in cleaning up your professional skills and getting them in top condition for the next big project you are inevitably going to tackle. In beermaking, if you don’t clean your equipment, it is impossible to make good beer. Period. Keep Your Fridge of Ideas Stocked So the next time you are bellying-up to the bar to quaff a cool one, think about all the steps that went into making that delicious beverage and remind yourself not to skimp on your PR skills, adapt your winning formula from time to time, document what works/what doesn’t and why, and keep honing your chops.